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First Published . 
Second Edition . 

July 2zst igio 






The nature of our subject-matter. 

The raw material of art, .... 

The character of our subject-matter, as embryonic forms of 

expression, prescribes our method of study. 
Our difficulties of description and analysis, . 
The separation of Art-criticism from Aesthetic, 
Eight aspects of Turner's genius, 






Turner's first drawings, 

'St. Vincent's Tower,' 

Copies and imitations. 

His debt to art. 

Work with Mr. Hardwick, 

Oxford sketches, 

' Radley Hall,' 

Working from the Antique, 

The Bristol sketch-book. 

End of the apprenticeship, 



Welsh tour of 1793, .... 

' St. Anselm's Chapel,' 

Turner's topographical rivals. 

Midland tour of 1794, 

Limitations of topographical and antiquarian art, 

' Interior of a Cottage,' 

Light and Shade as a means of expression, . 

The sketch-books of 1795 and their contents, 

' High Force of Tees ' or ' Fall of Melincourt ' ? 







III. THE SUBLIME— 1797-1802, . 

Change from pure outline to light and shade, 

' Ewenny Priory,' .... 

Contrast between 'Ewenny' (1797) and 'LlandafF Cathedral' (1796) 

Transition from Objectivity to Subjectivity, 

Growth of taste for the Sublime, 

There are no sublime objects, but only objects of sublime feeling, 

Therefore no guidance but from Art, 

The Wilson tradition. 

The two currents in Turner's work at this period — 

(a) Study of Nature ; 

(6) Study of the Wilson tradition, . 
In the 1797 sketches these two currents are kept distinct, 
The North of England tour (1797) and its record, 
' Studies for Pictures : Copies of Wilson,' 
The two currents begin to coalesce. 
The origin of ' Jason,' 
Scotch tour (1801), . 
Swiss tour (1802), . 



IV. THE SEA PAINTER— 1802-1809, . 

Contrast between Marine painting and the Sublime, 

Turner's first sea-pieces. 

The ' Bridgewater Sea-piece,' 

' Meeting of the Thames and Medway,' 

' Our landing at Calais — nearly swampt,' . 

'Fishermen upon a Lee Shore,' 

The Dunbar and Guisborough Shore sketch-book 

' The Shipwreck," .... 

The mouth of the Thames, 

' Sheemess ' and the ' Death of Nelson,' 



V. 'SIMPLE NATURE'— 180S-1813, 55 

The works of this period an important yet generally neglected 

aspect of Turner's art, ...... 55 

Turner's classification of ' Pastoral ' as distinguished from ' Elegant 

Pastoral,' ....... 56 

The Arcadian idyll of the mid-eighteenth century, . . 57 
The first ' Pastoral ' subjects in ' Liber,' . . . .57 

The ' Windmill and Lock,' ...... 57 



Events connected with the development of Turner's deeper and 

more solemn conception of the poetry of rural life, . . 58 

An attempt to define the mood of pictures like the ' Frosty 

Morning,' ....... 64 

The work of art is nothing less than its full significance, . . 67 

Distinction between mood and character, . . . .68 


Object of this chapter, .... . . 72 

The first ' Liber ' drawings were made at W. F. Wells's cottage 

at Knockholt, Kent, . . . . . .73 

' Bridge and Cows,' . . . . . .73 

Development of the so-called ' Flint Castle,' . . .75 

'Basle,' ........ 78 

' Little Devil's Bridge,' ...... 80 

' London from Greenwich,' . . . . .80 

•Kirkstall Crypt,' . . . . . . .81 

Etchings of the so-called ' Raglan Castle ' and ' Source of the 

Arveron,' ....... 82 

Suggestion for the better exhibition of the ' Liber Studiorum ' 

drawings, ....... 83 

1813-1830, ..... 

Survey of the ground we have covered. 

The training of Turner's sympathies by the Poets, 

The limits of artistic beauty. 

The predominantly sensuous bent of Turner's genius, 

The parting of the ways, .... 

The influence of the Academy and society 

Turner's first visit to Italy, 

The Naturalistic fallacy, . . . . - 

Turner's work for the engraver, . 




IMPRESSIONISM— 1 830-1 845, 

Mental Characteristics of the 1815-1830 period, . 

Their influence on form and colour. 

Colour enrichment a general characteristic of Romantic art. 

What further development is required to give the transition to 

Impressionism ?..... 
Turner's first Impressionistic work, 
Vagueness as a means of expression, 






Two ways of painting one's impressions. Turner's earlier way 
contrasted with the modern Impressionistic way, 

The change after 1830 is it a change in terms of sight or of 
thought — visual or mental ? . 

The content of Turner's later work, . 

Relation of Turner's later work to Impressionism defined. 

The historical development of Turner's later mannerj 

The Petworth sketches, .... 

Discovery of the artistic value of the Indeterminate, 

' Rivers of France,' ..... 

Venetian sketches, ..... 

Swiss and Rhine sketches, . . . 

The end, ...... 




The distinction between Art-criticism and Aesthetic, 

The aim of this chapter, ..... 

Art and physical fact, ..... 

The ' common-sense ' conception of landscape art as evidence of fact 

Mr. Ruskin's treatment of the relation of Art and Nature, . 

His confusion of Nature and Mind, .... 

Art as a form of communication implies that the dualism of Nature 
and Mind is overcome, ..... 

What does Art represent .'' . 

An individualised psychical content present to the mind of the artist. 

Classification of Turner's sketches and studies from the point of 
view of their logical content, ..... 

The assertions in a work of art do not directly qualify the 
ordinary real world, but an imaginary world specially con- 
structed for the artist's purpose, .... 

The ideal of complete definition, . . . . . 

Yet the content must determine the form, . • . . 

Plea for a dynamic study of Artistic form, .... 











All the Drawings are in the National Gallery, unless otherwise specified. 
(The numbers, etc., in brackets refer to the position of the Drawings in the Official Inventory. ) 

The Pass of Faido, St. Gothard, 

Water Colour. 1844. (ccclxiv. 209.) 



Between 6-7 

I. St. Vincent's Tower, Naples, .... 
Water-Colour. About 1787. (i.e.) 

II. Central Portion of an Aquatint by Paul Sandby, after Fabris, 
entitled 'Part of Naples, with the Ruin'd Tower of 
St. Vincent.' Published 1st Jan. 1778, . . Between 6-7 

III. Radley Hall : South Front, ..... Facing 11 

Water-Colour. About 1789. (iii. d). 

IV. View on the Avon, from Cook's Folly, .... Facing 14 

Water-Colour and Ink. About 1791. (vi. 24). 

V. Lincoln Cathedral, ..... Between 20-21 

Water Colour, exhibited at Royal Academy, 1795. 
In Print Room, British Museum. 

VI. Lincoln Cathedral, from the South-west, . . Between 20-21 

Pencil. 1794. (xxi. 0). 

VII. Pony and Wheelbarrow, ..... Facing 23 

Pencil. 1794. (xxi. 27a). 

VIII. Melincourt Fall, Vale of Neath, .... Facing 26 

Pencil, part in Water-Colour. 1795. (xxvi. 8). 

IX. Interior of Ripon Cathedral : North Transept, . . Facing 28 

Pencil. 1797. (xxxv. 6). 

X. Conway Falls, near Bettws-y-Coed, .... Facing 30 
Water-Colour. About 1798. (xxxviii. 71.) 

XI. Conway Castle, ...... Facing 32 

Pencil. About 1798. (xx.xviii. .50a). 

XII. Ruined Castle on Hill, ..... Facing 34 

Water-Colour. About 1798. (l. k). 

















Study of Fallen Trees, ..... Facing 36 

Water-Colour. About 1798. (xlii. 18-19.) 

Caernarvon Castle, ..... Facing 31 

Pencil. 1799. (xlvi. 61.) 

Cassiobury : North-west View, .... Facing 38 

Pencil. About 1800. (xlvii. 41.) 

Blair's Hut on the Montanvert and Mer de Glace. 

Sketch for the Water-Colour in the Farnley Collection, Facing 39 
Water-Colour. 1802. (lxxv. 22.) 

Study for the ' Bridgewater Sea-piece,' . . . Facing 42 

Pen and ink, wash, and white chalk on blue paper. About 1801. 
(lxxxi. 122-123.) 

Study of a Barge with Sails Set, . ... Facing 43 

Pen and ink, wash, and white chalk on blue paper. About 1802. 
(lxxxi. 138-139.) 

Fishermen launching Boat in a rough Sea, . . Facing 44 

Pen and ink and wash. About 1802. (lxviii. 3.) 

Study for ' Sun rising through Vapour,' . . . Facing 45 

Black and white chalk on blue paper. About 1804. (lxxxi. 40.) 

Study for ' The Shipwreck,' .... Facing 47 

Pen and ink and wash. About 1805. (lxxxvii. 16.) 

Men-of- War's Boats fetching Provisions (1), . . Facing 49 

Pencil. About 1808. (xcix. 18.) 

Men-of- War's Boats fetching Provisions (2), . . Facing 50 

Pencil. About 1808. (xcix. 22.) 

' The Inscrutable,' ...... Facing 52 

Pencil. About 1808. (ci. 18.) 

Sketch for ' Hedging and Ditching,' . . Between 56-57 

Pencil. About 1807. (c. 47.) 

' Hedging and Ditching,' .... Between 56-57 

Wash drawing in Sepia for ' Liber Studiorum.' About 
1808. (cxvii. w.) 

(a) Mill on the Grand Junction Canal, near Hanwell, 
Pencil. About 1809. (cxiv. 72a-73). 

(6) ' Windmill and Lock,' 

Engraving published in ' Liber Studiorum,' 1st June, 1811 
(R. 27). 

Facing 61 








Whalley Bridge and Village, .... 

Pencil. About 1808. (cm. 8). 
Whalley Bridge. Sketch for the Picture exhibited at the 
Royal Academy. 1811. (Now in Lady Wantage's 
Collection), . 
Pencil. About 1808. (cm. 6.) 
London, from Greenwich Pai-k, 

Pencil. About 1809. (cxx. h.) 

Petworth House, from the Lake, . 

Pencil. About 1809. (cix. 4.) 
Petworth House, from the Park, 

Pencil. About 1809. (cix. 5.) 

xxxin. Cockermouth Castle, 

Pencil. About 1809. (cix. 15.) 

xxxiv. Landscape near Plymouth, 

Pencil. About 1812. (cxxxi. 96.) 

XXXV. (a) Sandycombe Lodge and Grounds. 

Pen and Ink. About 1811. (cxiv. 73a-74.) 

(b) Plan of Garden : Sandycombe Lodge, 
Pen and Ink. About 1812. (cxxvii. 21a.) 

XXXVI. Scene on the French Coast, 

Sepia. About 1806. (cxvi. c.) 
XXXVII. Scene on the French Coast. Generally known as 
Castle : Smugglers,' 
Print of etching, washed with Sepia. About 1807. 
xxxvm. Juvenile Tricks, ..... 
Sepia. About 1808. 

XXXIX. Berry Pomeroy Castle. 
Sepia. About 1813. 
XL. The Alcove, Isleworth. 

ham — Pope's Villa,' etc.. 
Sepia. About 1816. (cxvm. i.) 

XLi. Sheep-Washing, Windsor, 

Sepia. About 1818. (cxvm. q.) 

XLii. View of a River, from a Terrace 
Sepia. About 1818. (cxvm. y.) 

Facing 62 

Facing 63 
Facing 64 
Facing 65 
Facing 66 
Facing 67 
Facing 68 

Facing 69 

Between 74-75 

' Flint 

Between 74-75 

(cxvi. I).) 

. Facing 78 

(cxvi. z.) 
Generally known as 

■ Raglan 

(cxvm. E.) 

Generallv known as 'Twicken- 

Sometimes called 

Facing 79 

Facing 80 
Facing 81 

Facing 82 


. Facing 83 

. Facing Si 

. Facing 85 

. Facing 86 

. Facing 87 

XLiii. Crowhurst, Sussex, 

Sepia. About 1818. (cxvm. b.) 

xLiv. Kirkby Lonsdale Bridge, . 

Pencil. About 1816. (cxlviii. 4c-5.) 
XLV. Raby Castle, .... 

Pencil. About 1817. (clvi. 16a-17.) 

XLvi. Raby Castle, .... 

Pencil. About 1817. (clvi. 19a-20.) 

xLvii. Raby Castle, .... 

Pencil. About 1817. (clvi. 18a-19.) 
XLViii. Looking up the Grand Canal, Venice, from near the 

Accademia di Belle Arti, .... Facing 90 
Pencil. 1819. (clxxv. 70a-71.) 
XLix. St. Mark's, Venice, witli part of the Ducal Palace, . Facing 91 

Pencil. 1819. (clxxv. 45.) 
L. The Piazzetta, Venice, looking towards Isola di S. Giorgio 
Maggiore, .... 
Pencil. 1819. (clxxv. 46a.) 

LI. Rome, from Monte Mario, 

Pencil and Water-Colour. 1819. (clxxxix. 38.) 

Lii. Rome, from the Vatican, . 

Pen and ink and Chinese white on grey. 1819. (clxxxix. 41.) 

uii. Trajan's Column, in the Forum of Trajan, 

Pencil. 1819. (clxx.xviii. 48.) 
Liv. Study of Plants, Weeds, etc.. 

Pencil. About 1823. (ccv. la.) 

Lv. (a) Watchet, Somersetshire, 

Pencil. About 1811. (cxxiii. 170a.) 

(6) Watchet, Somersetshire, 

Engraving published in 'The Southern Coast,', 1st April, 

Facing 92 

. Facing 93 

. Facing 94 

. Facing 95 
. Facing 96 

Facing 100 

Lvi. (a) Boscastle, Cornwall, 

Pencil. About 1811. (cxxiii. 182.) 
(6) Boscastle, Cornwall, .... \Facing\0\ 

Engraving published in ' The Southern Coast/ 10th March, 

Lvii. Hornby Castle, from Tatham Church, 
Pencil. About 1816. (cxlvu, 41a-42.) 


Between 102-103 





Lviii. Hornby Castle, from Tatham Church, . . Between 102-103 

Eng;raviiig, from the Water-Colour in the Victoria and Albert 
Museum, published in Whitaker's ' Richmondshire,' 
June, 1822. 

Lix. («) Heysham, with Black Combe, Coniston Old Man,' 
Helvellyn, etc., in the distance, . 
Pencil. About 1816. (cxlvii. 40a-41). 

(6) Heysham and Cumberland Mountains, 

Engraving published in Whitaker's ' Kichmondshire/ 22nd 
August, 1822. 

Lx. (a) Edinburgh, from Calton Hill, 
Pencil. 1818. (clxvii. 89a.) 

(6) Edinburgh, from the Calton Hill, 

Engraving published in Scott's 'Provincial Antiquities 
of Scotland,' 1st November, 1820. 

(c) Edinburgh, from Calton Hill, 

Pencil. 1818. (clxvii. 40.) 

(d) Figures on Calton Hill, 
Pencil. 1818. (clxvii. 40a.) 

LXi. (a) Borthwick Castle, 

Pencil. 1818. (clxvii. 76.) 

(6) Borthwick Castle, 

Engraving published in Scott's 
Scotland,' 2nd April, 1819. 

LXii. (a) Rochester, .... 
Pencil. About 1821. (cxcix. 18.) 

(6) Rochester, .... 
Pencil. About 1821. (cxcix. 21.) 

LXiii. Rochester on the River Medway, 

Water-Colour. About 1822. (ccvm. w.) 

Lxiv. Bolton Abbey, .... 
Pencil. About 1815. (cxxxiv. 81-82.) 

Lxv. Bolton Abbey, .... 

Engraving published in ' Picturesque Views in England and 
Wales,' 1827. 

Lxvi. (a) Colchester, 

Pencil. About 1824. (ccix. 6a.) 

■ Provincial Antiquities of 

-Facing 107 


Between 108-109 

Between 110-111 

Between 110-111 

(6) Colchester, 

Pencil. About 1824. (ccix. 7a.) 




''■^'^^ PAGES 

Lxvii. Colchester, Essex, .... Between 110-111 

Engraving, published in ' Picturesque Views in England and 
Wales/ 1827. 

Lxvm. Stamford, Lincolnshire, .... Between 112-113 
Pencil. 1797. (xxxiv. 86.) 

LXix. Stamford, Lincolnshire, .... Between 112-113 
Engraving published in ' Picturesque Views in England and 
Wales/ 1830. 

Lxx. (a) Tynemouth Priory, .... 

Pencil, with part in ^Vater-Colour, 1797. (xxxiv. 35.) 

(6) Tynemouth, Northumberland, 

Engraving, published in ' Picturesque Views in Eng- 
land and Wales/ 1831. 

' Facing- 113 

Lxxi. Bemerside Tower, . .... Between 118-119 

Pencil. About 1831. (cclxvii. 82a.) 

Lxxii. Bemerside Tower, ..... Between 111-118 
Engraving published in Scott's ' Poetical Works' (Cadell), 

'Lxxiii. Men chatting round Fireplace: Petworth House, Facing' 122 

Water-Colour. About 1830. (ccxliv. 82.) 

Lxxiv. Teasing the Donkey : Petworth, . . . Facing 123 

Water-Colour. About 1830. (coxliv. 97.) 

Lxxv. Honfleur, ...... Facing 126 

Water-Colour. About 1830. (cclix. 15.) 

Lxxvi. Country Town on Stream, .... Facing 127 

Water-Colour. About 1830. (cclix. 16.) 

Lxxvii. Sheep in the Trench, .... Facing 128 

Water-Colour. About 1830. (cclix. 17.) 

Lxxviii. Shipping on the Riva degli Schiavone, . . Facing 129 

Water-Colour. About 1839. (cccxvi. 20.) 

Lxxrx. The Approach to Venice : Sunset, . . Facing 132 

Water-Colour. About 1839. (cccxvi. 16.) 

Lxxx. Riva degli Schiavone, from near the Public Gardens, Facing 133 

Water-Colour. About 1839. (cccxvi. 21.) 

Lxxxi. Freibui-g : The Descent from the Hotjl de Ville, . Facing 134 

Water-Colour. About 1841. (cccxxxv. 14.) 




Lxxxii. Ruined Castle on Rock, 

Water-Colour. About 1841. (cccxxxix. 5.) 

Lxxxiii. Village and Castle on the Rhine, . 

Water-Colour. About 1844. (cccxlix. 22.) 

Lxxxrv. The Via Mala, .... 

Water-Colour. About 1844. (ccolxiv. 362.) 

Lxxxv. On the Rhine, .... 

Water-Colour. 1844. (cccxlix. 20.) 

T.xxxvi. Baden, looking North, 

Water-Colour. 1844. (cccxlix. 14.) 

Lxxxvii. Lucerne : Evening, 

Water-Colour. 1844. (cccxliv. 324.) 

Facing 135 
Facing 140 
Facing 141 
Facing 148 
Facing 149 
Facing 152 




The natiire of our subject-matter — The difference between sketches and 
finished works — The character of our subject-matter, as embryonic forms 
of artistic expression, prescribes the method of study we must adopt — 
Our method is broadly chronological — But to follow Turner's work year 
by year in detail would carry us beyond the limits of our present under- 
taking — I have, therefore, broken up Turner's career into eight stages or 
phases of development. 

THE object of the following pages is to re-study the 
character of Turner's art in the light of his sketch- 
books and drawings from nature. 

During Turner's lifetime his rooted objection to part with any 
of his sketches, studies, or notes often formed the subject of ill- 
natured comment. Yet we owe it to this peculiarity that the 
drawings and sketches included in the Turner Bequest at the 
National Gallery comprise practically the whole of the great 
landscape painter's work done direct from nature. The collection 
is, therefore, of very great psychological interest. It shows 
clearly upon what basis of immediately presentative elements the 
airy splendour of Turner's richly imaginative art was built : and 
amongst the twenty odd thousand sheets of drawings in all stages 
of elaboration, the embryonic forms of most of the painter's 
masterpieces can be easily traced. 

A careful examination of the drawings shows that Turner's 
objection to part with his sketches and notes was not the outcome 
of a blind and deeply ingrained passion for accumulation, but 

T. S.— 1 1 


that it was the necessary result of the painter's clearly defined 
conception of the radical difference between the raw material of 
the painter's art, and its fully articulated products — the difference 
between mere sketches and studies and fugitive memoranda, and 
the fully elaborated works of art to which such preliminaries are 
subservient, but with which they should never be confused. From 
Turner's point of view the properly finished pictures were all that 
the public had a right to see or possess ; the notes and studies were 
meant only for his own eye. Even in his later years, when he 
consented to exhibit what he expressly called a ' record ' of a scene 
he had witnessed, he grumbled when it was admired and treated 
as a picture, although in this case the ' record ' was not a hurried 
memorandum, but a fully elaborated attempt ' to show what such 
a scene was like.' ^ 

The method of our study must be determined by the general 
character of our subject-matter. Our main business is with 
fragmentary records, hurried memoranda, half- formed thoughts, 
and tentative designs. We must not and cannot treat these 
dependent and embryonic fragments as independent entities ; we 
cannot pick and choose amongst them, or love or dislike them 
entirely for their own sakes, as we can with complete works of 
art which contain within themselves the grounds of their own 
justification or insufficiency. To grasp the significance of our 
sketches and studies we must study the goal towards which they 
are striving. We must not be content to admire even the most 
beautiful of these sketches entirely for its own sake, but must 
study them for the sake of their connection with the works which 
they were instrumental in producing. 

These considerations have also weighed with me in the 
selection of the numerous illustrations with which the publishers 
have generously enriched this volume. On the whole I have 
chosen the illustrations rather for the light they throw on 
Turner's conception of art and methods of work than for their 
own individual attractiveness ; but the glamour of execution is 
so invariably present in all that came from Turner's hand, that 
few of these drawings will be found which do not possess a very 
powerful aesthetic appeal of their own. 

^ See Modeiii Painters, vol. v. p. 342 note. 


In dealing with Turner's work from the point of view I have 
indicated, we are forced to touch upon problems which the 
prudent art critic is apt to avoid. In studying the relation 
between the preliminary sketches and studies and the finished 
works into which they were developed, we find ourselves plunged 
into the midst of some of the most baffling difficulties of 
psychology and aesthetic. In attempting even to describe the 
relation between the more rudimentary and the more fully 
articulated processes of artistic expression, we are forced, whether 
we like it or not, to face the problems of the relation between 
form and content, between treatment and subject, between 
portrayal and portrayed ; and we cannot go far without finding 
ourselves obliged to reconsider the common-sense ideas of Truth, 
Nature, and Art. We cannot avoid such problems if we would. 
If I face them, therefore, instead of emulating the discretion of 
my elders, it is, I am sure, from no ingrained love of abstractions, 
but rather from an overpowering interest in all the concrete forms 
of pictorial art. 

The separation of aesthetic from art-criticism which is so much 
favoured at present, though it eases the labour of thought both 
to the art-critic and to his readers, seems to me otherwise inex- 
cusable and fraught with serious artistic and intellectual dangers. 
Art-criticism cut adrift from general principles cannot help 
degenerating into a blatant form of self-assei-tion or an immoral 
form of practical casuistry — a finding of good reasons for any- 
thing you have a mind to ; and aesthetic, divorced from all living 
contact with the concrete phenomena of art, is one of the dullest 
as well as the most useless of studies. But this is not the place to 
set forth in detail or defend my conception of the function and 
methods of art-criticism. I will merely say that I regard it as a 
form of rational investigation of the phenomena of pictorial art ; 
it has no immediate practical aim ; and it does not propose to 
prolong or intensify the enjoyment which works of art provide. 

We find then that we cannot study Turner's sketches in isola- 
tion from his finished works. But to follow his completed work 
year by year in detail would obviously carry us beyond the limits 
of our present undertaking, I have, therefore, broken up Turner's 
career into eight facets or aspects. In the first chapter I deal 



with his seven years' apprenticeship, from 1787 to 1793, using his 
sketches to throw hght on his youthful aims and methods. The 
second chapter, covering the years 1793 to 1797, deals with the 
work of the topographical draughtsman. I then study the 
gloomy and romantic side of Turner's art, when he was mainly 
under the influence of Richard Wilson and of the churchyard 
and charnel-house sentiment of Edward Young and Joseph 
Warton. The fourth chapter is devoted to Turner's early sea- 
pieces, and the next to his work as a painter of what his contem- 
poraries called ' Simple Nature.' This phase of Turner's art is 
difficult to describe in a few words. One way would be to call 
it a phase of Wordsworthian naturalism, but it must be remem- 
bered that it was not an echo or a by-product of Wordsworth's 
poetry, but an independent and simultaneous embodiment in 
another form of art of sentiments common both to Wordsworth 
and to Turner. Pictures like Turner's ' Frosty Morning ' and 
' Windsor ' were as new, as unprecedented, as Wordsworth's most 
characteristic poems. This side of Turner's art shows him as the 
founder of a genuinely national school of homely realism, as the 
head of the Norwich school and the master of David Cox, De 
Wint, Callcott, and the rest. 

The sixth chapter deals with the designs engraved in the 
Liber Studiorum, and the sketches on which they were based. 
The seventh is devoted mainly to the work engraved in the 
Southern Coast, Riclimondshire, Scott's Antiquities, the Rivers 
and Ports, and the England and Wales series, the work 
by which the artist is perhaps best known. My eighth 
chapter treats of the period when signs of mental decay began to 
be apparent. These years saw the production of what have been 
called the first Impressionistic pictures. Then, by way of bring- 
ing to a head some of the observations on the nature of artistic 
expression which our investigations have forced upon our notice, 
I have added a final chapter deaUng mainly with the relation 
between Art and Nature. The subject-matter of this chapter 
is not so attractive as that of the others, but I do not think it 
right to omit it. 

This selection of the facets of Turner's dazzling and complex 
genius is necessarily arbitrary and incomplete. The aspects I have 


chosen to throw into relief can make no pretence to be exhaus- 
tive. They must be taken as a poor but necessary device for the 
introduction of a kind of superficial order into our present task 
— as a concession to the weakness and limitations of the powers of 
the student, rather than as a successful summary of the multi- 
farious forms into which one of the most prolific and many-sided 
creative activities of modern art has poured itself. And the 
threads of this living activity which I have sought to isolate, never 
existed in isolation. Turner was not at one period of his life a 
romantic and at another a pseudo-classic or Academic painter, 
a sea-painter at one time, and a painter of ' simple Nature ' at 
another. Turner was always a sea-painter and a topographer, a 
romantic, a pseudo-classic, and an impressionist, as well as a master 
of homely realism. While he was painting ' Hannibal Crossing 
the Alps ' he had the ' View of High Street, Oxford ' on his easel ; 
the ' Abingdon ' and the ' Apollo ' were painted at the same time 
as were the ' Frosty Morning' and the 'Dido and Aeneas.' He 
could paint a huge dull empty canvas like ' Thomson's Lyre ' 
when his muse was putting forth its lustiest and most vigorous 
shoots ; he could give us ' The Fighting Temeraire ' when his 
powers seemed stifled amid the fumes of early Victorian senti- 
mentaUty. His genius is hot and cold like Love itself, a fine and 
subtle spirit that eludes the snares of our plodding faculties. But 
unless we desire merely to bedazzle and intoxicate our senses, we 
cannot afford to dispense with the poor crutches upon which our 
pedestrian intellect must stumble. 



Turner's first drawings — ' St. Vincent's Tower ' — Turner's copies and 
imitations — His debt to Art — Work with Mr. Hardwick — Oxford sketches 
— ' Radley Hall ' — Drawings from the Antique — The Bristol sketch-book 
— End of the apprenticeship. 

THE legend runs that Turner's first drawings were exhibited 
in his father's shop-window, ticketed for sale at prices 
ranging from one to three shillings. 

There is nothing improbable in this story, though the drawings 
referred to by Thornbury,^ as having been bought by a Mr. 
Crowle under these conditions, do not happen to have been made 
by Turner. I have not, indeed, been able to discover any draw- 
ing which can confidently be said to have been purchased from the 
barber's shop in ]\Iaiden Lane, but there are some in the National 
Gallery which show us exactly what kind of work Turner was 
capable of producing at the time when he might have resorted to 
this rough and ready method of attracting patronage. 

A typical drawing of this kind is the brightly-coloured view 
of St. Vincent's Tower, Naples, reproduced on Plate i. of the 
present volume. It is oval in shape, measuring about 8 x 10 
inches, and has evidently been cut out withouf^mechanical assist- 
ance, as the curves of the oval are somewhat erratic. As the 
youthful artist had not visited Italy at this period, I thought it 
probable that this drawing was based upon the work of some 
other artist, and I was fortunate enough to be able to trace it to 

' The Life of Turner, by Walter Thornbury, 1897 edition, p. 27. The drawings referred 
to are now in the Print Room, British Museum. 


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sevejs^ yeaes' apprenticeship 

its source. It is copied and adapted from an aquatint by Paul 
Sandby, after Fabris, published on 1st January 1778, entitled 
' Part of Naples, with the Ruin'd Tower of St. Vincent.' Sandby 's 
engraving is a large one (about 13|- x 20 inches), and comprises 
an extensive view of the harbour and bay of Naples, with the 
Castel deir Uovo in the middle distance, and St. Elmo crowning 
the buildings on the right. Turner has picked out as it were 
the pictorial plum of this mass of topographical information. He 
has set the ruined tower boldly in the centre of his design, and 
has used only just so much of the surrounding buildings and 
scenery as was necessary to make an appropriate background or 
setting for it. He has reduced the Castle of the Egg to insignifi- 
cance, and closed up his distance with appropriate but imaginary 
mountains. In the engraving a passing boat with figures divides 
our interest with the tower. Turner has suppressed it. He has 
also reduced the size of the quay upon which the tower stands, 
thus increasing the apparent height of the tower. The few 
meagre weeds clinging to the battlements in the engraving have 
developed luxuriantly in Turner's drawing, thus adding consider- 
ably to its picturesqueness. The foreground figures seem to have 
been adapted from those in the engraving. 

It is probable that these slight differences between the 
engraving and the water-colour were made involuntarily, for it is 
evident that Turner did not have the engraving under his eyes 
while he was making the drawing. He had probably seen the 
engraving in some shop-window, and had made a hasty pencil 
sketch of the part that interested him. That he was working 
from a somewhat perfunctory sketch and not direct from the 
original is proved by the fact that he has introduced three arches 
into the building on the quay immediately at the foot of the tower, 
instead of the two in Sandby 's engraving. But in the engraving 
there is a small rounded turret on the battlements of the quay 
which comes just in front of the place where Turner has intro- 
duced his third arch. It is clear that he mistook the indication 
of this turret in his rough sketch for a third arch in the building 

It would, of course, be imprudent to suppose that Turner 
chose to work in this way partly from memory, with the deliberate 



intention of giving his imagination freer play ; he was probably 
forced to do so by the material exigencies of his position. But 
certainly this way of working was admirably calculated to 
strengthen his memory and call into play his innate powers of 
arrangement and adaptation. 

The colour scheme, which is probably the artist's own inven- 
tion, is light and pleasing. The golden rays of the setting 
(? rising) sun are painted with evident enjoyment. The warm 
yellow light of the sun is transfused over the whole of the sky, 
turning the distant clouds into crimson. The keynote of the 
colour is thus orange yellow, passing through pink to burnt sienna. 
In spite of the lightness of the colour the drawing was worked 
over a black and white foundation, light washes of Indian ink 
having been used to establish the broad divisions of light and 
shade in the design. These washes afterwards formed the ground- 
work of the greys and cooler colours, being warmed in parts (as 
in the tower) with washes or touches of pink and burnt sienna, or 
worked up into more positive hues by subsequent washes of blue 
and yellow. 

The handling of the drawing — the sharp decided touches, the 
neatness and dexterity of its washes, and the rapid march of the 
whole work — shows what a hold the idea of a unified work of art 
had already obtained over Turner's mind. The clear, determined 
workmanship shows that he must have been thinking of the whole 
from the beginning, and not of the representation of a number of 
separate natural objects. 

This childish effort seems to me of great interest as marking 
with extraordinary clearness the point of departure of Turner's 
art. From the beginning he sees things pictorially, as elements 
in a conceptual whole, not as isolated and independent objects. 
His sense of design — both as the faculty of expression as well as 
of formal arrangement — is thus developed, while the merely repre- 
sentative qualities of art are ignored or at least subordinated. 
This early grasp of the idea of pictorial unity is obviously the 
result of Turner's study of works of art, and not of his study of 
nature. Since Mr. Ruskin's labours it will not be possible for 
any student to overlook the enormous profit which Turner derived 
in his subsequent work from his unwearied observation of the 


phenomena of nature; it is well, therefore, to be careful not to 
overlook the prior debt which Turner had contracted to art, and 
the extraordinary advantage his early grasp of pictorial unity gave 
him in appropriating the multifarious variety of natural shapes 
and colours. 

The other drawings of this period in the National Gallery 
only serve to emphasise Turner's indebtedness to art. Some of 
these are plain straightforward copies. The most elaborate of 
these is the copy of ' Folly Bridge and Bacon's Tower ' which has 
long been exhibited in the Turner Water Colour rooms (No. 613, 
N.G.). This is copied from an engraving by J. Basire published 
in the Oxford Almanack for the year 1780. The colouring, how- 
ever, is original. This copy is signed and dated, ' W. Turner, 
1787.' Among the other copies is a pencil outline of the Old 
Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt, from the engraving in Grose's 
Antiquities. There is also a coloured drawing, somewhat similar 
in size and shape to that of St. Vincent's Tower, of Dacre Castle, 
Cumberland. I am unable to say from what engraving this is 
copied or adapted.^ It may have been a slightly earlier effort than 
the Neapolitan subject, as the Indian ink underpainting is less skil- 
fully done and the general effect is heavier and more monotonous. 

These drawings, made, I believe, between Turner's twelfth and 
fourteenth years, show the youthful artist in the act of acquiring 
the rudiments of that pictorial language which he was to use in 
after years with such mastery and ease. We see him acquiring 
this language by intercourse with his fellows who use it, not, as is 
the modern way, through the course of a random study of nature. 
He is learning from tradition, and the thought of the artistic 
community as expressed in the current pictorial language 
is gradually forming and moulding his ideas. He is imitating 
those around him, as a child imitates the words of its nurse 
and mother. 

On the present occasion, I need do no more than call attention 
in passing to the immense advantage Turner enjoyed in being 
initiated thus early and in this easy and natural way into the 

' Since these lines were written I have been lucky enough to discover its source. It is 
based on an engraving in Gilpin's Northern Tour, vol. ii., facing p. 8.5. Turner has followed 
the engraving fairly carefully, but has introduced two figures of his own in the foreground. 



sphere of art. He was thus saved from those years of futile and 
heart-breaking experiment to which the modern system of nature 
study dooms all those students whose native powers are not 
entirely deadened by its influence. The habit thus early forced 
upon him of regarding himself as an actual producer, i.e. as a 
maker of articles with a definite market value, must also have been 
beneficial to him. The existence of a class of real patrons, whose 
tastes had to be consulted and whose pockets contained actually 
exchangeable coin of the realm, must have placed some insistence 
upon the social aspect of art, and have helped to prevent the boy 
from making the mistake which so many subsequent artists have 
made, of considering their work merely as a means of self-expres- 
sion, instead of as a means of super-individual or universal 
communication. Another important result of these early employ- 
ments was the facility and mastery in the use of his material 
which they gave him. Between the water-colours of different 
periods of Turner's career there are the most astonishing contrasts 
of subject-matter and sentiment, but in all of them one finds 
the same inimitable grace, strength, and dexterity of workman- 
ship, the same unequalled technical mastery over the medium ; 
and this purely executive address — this 'genius of mechanical 
excellence,' to use Reynolds's expression — could have been attained 
only as the result of an early familiarity with this particular form 
of artistic expression. 

About his fourteenth year (1789) Turner was placed with an 
architect, Mr. P. Hardwick. It seems to me doubtful whether he 
was regularly apprenticed, or was intended to take up the study of 
architecture from a practical point of view. The evidence upon 
this point is extremely limited, but what little there is points to 
his employment upon purely pictorial tasks, such as the dressing 
out of projects or views of buildings with a plausible arrangement 
of light and shade and a pleasing setting of landscape background. 
We know that Mr. Hardwick built the New Church at Wanstead,^ 
and that Turner made for his master a water-colour drawing both 
of the old church which was pulled down and the new one that 
took its place. I have not been fortunate enough to trace the 

• It was finished in 1790 and consecrated on the 24th June. See Lysons's Environs oj 
London, vol. ii. p. 237. 



H s 

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present owner of these drawings, but the water-colour of the old 
church was exhibited at the Old Masters (R..A.) in 1887. There 
is, however, in the National Gallery a pencil outline of the new 
church, squared for enlargement, which shows no signs of training 
in the practical work of the architect's profession. 

The earliest of Turner's sketch-books now in the National 
Gallery was in use during the period of this connection with Mr. 
Hardwick. A pencil sketch of a church by the river, easily 
recognisable as Isleworth Old Church, with barges moored beside 
the bank, is probably the note from which the water-colour was 
made which Mr. Hardwick's grandson lent to the Old Masters in 
1887. Most of the other drawings, however, appear to have been 
made during a stay near Oxford. There are sketches of Clifton 
Nuneham (then Nuneham Courtenay), near Abingdon ; of Radley 
Hall, between Abingdon and Oxford ; of a distant view of Oxford ; 
a sketch of a ruined tower which may represent Pope's Tower in 
the ruins of the Harcourts' house at Stanton Harcourt, and two 
drawings of Sunningwell Church, a village about two miles from 
Radley and three from Abingdon. As Turner's uncle, Joseph 
Mallord William Marshall, his mother's elder brother, after whom 
he was named, was then living at Sunningwell, it is probable that 
these drawings were the result of a summer holiday spent with his 

These drawings represent Turner's first attempts to draw from 
nature. They are characterised by an absence of blundering and 
a sense of pictorial logic and requirements which could only 
belong to a beginner whose eye and hand had already been 
disciplined in the production of works of art. One cannot but 
feel that the mould into which the immediate experiences of the 
artist were to be cast had already been firmly set before his pencil 
was placed upon the paper, nay, before the particular sights in 
question were actually seen. In other words, the pictorial 
formula into which the material gathered from nature was to be 
worked up had been clearly determined before the artist set out 
to gather such material for himself. Turner's confidence in the 
unbounded felicity of immediate contact with nature was not 
commensurate with that of modern artistic theorists. He does 
indeed entrust himself to the open fields, but it is not until he 



has armed himself with a stout though flexible panoply of artistic 

But though the draughtsmanship is conventional, I do not 
think it can fairly be called mannered. The actual statements 
made are made with the utmost simplicity and directness. In the 
drawings of Sunningwell Church (on p. 12 of the sketch-book), of 
Radley Hall (pp. 9 and 14), and of Isleworth Old Church (p. 22), 
the general proportions and main facts of the buildings are noted 
with deliberate and methodical care. The artist knows what facts 
he will want when he comes to make his finished water-colours, 
and he takes those facts and calmly ignores all the particular 
effects of light and shade, colour and accident which his experi- 
ence of other artists' work had shown him would not be useful to 
him. Thus there is a strongly marked selective activity at work, 
which gives what I tliink can be more correctly described as style 
than as manner. Yet I should not be surprised to find the term 
mannerism applied to the curiously monotonous calligraphic 
scribbles wliich stand for trees and clouds in these drawings. 
That they are conventional and singularly indefinite I readily 
admit, yet they are not deliberately learnt ' ways of doing trees ' 
like those, for instance, which a student of J. D. Harding's 
teaching might adopt. They are as they are because their 
immediate function is clearly determined by their ultimate 
purpose. In making Ms finished water-colour drawing at home 
the trees and clouds, as well as the whole system of hght and 
shade, were merely the docile instruments of pictorial effective- 
ness. The exact shape of each tree and cloud in his drawing, and 
even their exact positions, were determined as the work pro- 
gressed by purely pictorial requirements. A detailed statement 
of the exact shape of any particular tree or cloud in the actual 
scene from which the sketch was made would therefore have 
been not only of no use to the artist, but a positive hindrance, as 
it would have complicated the problem of formal arrangement 
before the artist, even if it did not actively hinder its solution. 
In these sketches from nature Turner therefore takes his skies 
and foliage for granted as much as possible, merely hinting at 
their general existence in a loose and tentative way. 

But if the charge of mannerism cannot be fairly brought 


against the sketches made face to face with nature, it is otherwise 
with the water-colours which were afterwards elaborated from 
them. Drawings like the view of ' Radley Hall,' reproduced on 
Plate III., and the ' View of the City of Oxford ' might almost be 
said to consist of little else than mannerisms. The manner of 
doing trees and skies and of arranging the planes of the scene is 
taken over directly from Paul Sandby, as are also the method of 
working in transparent washes and the gamut of colours used. 
The ' View of Oxford ' is indeed nothing but a feeble echo of some 
of Sandby 's fine drawings ; it teUs us little of Turner himself, 
beyond an indication of a certain liking for scenes of this kind. 
Perhaps the most noteworthy point in the drawing is the demon- 
stration it affords of the superior development of his sense of tone 
to his sense of form ; the buildings sway to and fro in the wind, 
the foliage is childish and ridiculous, but the difference between 
the broad expanses of ground and sky is clearly marked, and the 
limpid sky gives an undeniable charm to it all. 

There is perhaps a httle more of himself in the view of 
' Radley Hall.' The way the tree-trunks seem to blow themselves 
out, and toss themselves this way and that, while their branches 
explode in the wildest and most fantastic contortions, — all this is 
given with such keen and frank enjoyment, that it points to 
something more than a mere passive reproduction of a purely 
technical recipe. The trees in those drawings of Sandby which 
Turner had studied do indeed behave in this way, but Turner 
identifies himself so closely with the inner meaning of these forms 
that they become his own legitimate property. The sense of 
exuberant freedom in the trees is intensified by contrast with the 
rigid restraint of the building in the middle distance. It is as 
though the boy's imagination was glad to get away from the 
realm of necessity and disport itself in aimless gambols through 
space, free from the encumbrance of inert matter and of the laws 
of gravitation. It is this habit of getting at the inner emotional 
content of the pictorial conventions he adopts, that stamps 
Turner's whole career of imitation and appropriation with its 
peculiar character, making him invariably richer for all his 
borrowings, and more original for all his imitations. 

These two drawings were made in 1789, during the artist's 



fourteenth year. About the beginning of 1790 he joined the 
schools of the Royal Academy, acting, it is said, upon the advice 
of Mr. Hardwick. During part of 1790 and for the next two or 
three years he worked in what was then called the ' Plaister 
Academy,' i.e. from casts taken from the antique. Laborious 
chalk and stump drawings of the Apollo and Antinoiis of the 
Belvedere, the Venus de' Medici, and the Vatican Meleager, as 
well as of the more robust forms of the Diskobolos and Dying 
Gaul, are still in existence to demonstrate the diligence with 
which he pursued these uncongenial studies. Such work must 
have given his masters a singularly poor and misleading opinion of 
his talents. In June, 1792, he was admitted to the Life Class, 
while still continuing to attend the Antique. This academic 
training, however, must have been useful as an antidote, or at 
least as a supplement, to the topographical work to Avhich all his 
spare time was devoted. 

He seems to have spent his holidays in 1791 partly with his 
uncle at Sunningwell and partly mth some friends of the family, 
the Narraways, at Bristol. The sketch-book in use at this time 
is now in the National Gallery. The volume was never a 
handsome one, — it was probably stitched and bound by the artist 
himself — but its present appearance is deplorable ; the cardboard 
covers are broken, the rough and ready backing is almost undone, 
a number of the leaves have been cut or torn out, and the 
remainder are in a generally dirty and dilapidated condition. In 
spite of these disadvantages it gives us a valuable glimpse of 
Turner's interests and acquirements at the age of sixteen. 

Our first impression is that his year's work drawing from the 
cast has produced hardly any perceptible effect. The drawings of 
buildings are in some cases even more perfunctory than those in 
the ' Oxford ' Sketch-Book. The sketch of Bath Abbey Church 
(on page 14 of the book), for example, is not a very creditable 
performance for an ambitious Royal Academy student. Its 
carelessness, however, may have been due to limited oppor- 
tunities, but we must remember that this hasty scrawl, with 
the assistance of a few written notes and diagrams, was sufficient 
to enable the artist to produce afterwards an elaborate water- 
colour of the subject. A still more elaborately wrought and 


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carefully considered water-colour was the result of another sketch 
(on the reverse of page 16) in this book, a view of ' Stoke, near 
Bristol, the seat of Sir H. Lippencote,' now in the possession of 
Mrs. Thomas. This pencil sketch is quite as perfunctory as that 
of Bath Abbey. It is evident that nature ' put him out ' or that 
the artist's youthful impatience induced him to hurry over the 
first stages of his work. These sketches from nature were merely 
means to an end, and so long as they contained sufficient hints 
to set his subsequent work going he was perfectly satisfied. 
However, in some of the drawings where the first sketch from 
nature has been worked over subsequently (as in the water-colour 
of Captain Fowler's seat on Durdham Downs [on pp. 17a and 18]), 
we can trace an increased delicacy of hand, an added capacity for 
dealing with complex and irregular forms, and greater knowledge 
of the natural forms of trees. 

But it is evident that the wild and romantic scenery of the 
Avon gorge made a deeper impression on the young artist's 
imagination than the spick and span seats of the gentry. The 
ruins of Malmesbury Abbey are sketched from every available 
point of view, and there are hurried and clumsy sketches of ' The 
Ruins of a Chapel standing on an Island in the Severn,' ' A View 
of the Welsh Coast from Cook's Folly,' and others of 'Blaze 
Castle and the Deney and Welsh Coast,' ^ and the 'Old Passage.' 
The drawing described as a ' View from Cook's Folley (sic), looking 
up the River Avon with Wallis Wall and the Hot Wells ' (repro- 
duced on Plate iv.), shows clearly the bent of Turner's mind 
towards the wildness and freedom of nature, as weU as his strong 
love of ships. 

If it were our intention to follow Turner's work year by year, 
we should have to study in detail the drawings of Oxford, 
Windsor, Hereford and Worcester, and especially the Welsh 
and Monmouthshire sketches which belong to the years 1792 
and 1793. As it is, it is sufficient for our purpose to notice that 
the work of these two years shows a gradual increase of power 
in making sketches from nature. The young artist slowly gathers 
confidence in himself. Nature ceases to ' put him out,' to fluster 

' These titles are written on the backs of the drawings by the artist himself — an excellent 
practice which he very soon abandoned. 



him with her multitudinous details and ever-varying effects. He 
begins to treat nature as a conquered enemy, and there is just a 
suspicion of youthful impertinence in the cool and methodical 
way in which he gathers up the kind of facts he wants, and 
ignores everything that does not come within the scope of his 
pictorial formulas. But by this time it is evident that his period 
of apprenticeship is at an end, and that we must turn our attention 
to the work of the brilliant young topographical draughtsman. 




Welsh tour of 1793 — -'St. Anselm's Chapel' — Turner's topographical 
rivals — Midland tour of 1794 — Topographical and antiquarian draughts- 
manship — Its main interest is not embodied in the work — The marvel- 
lous jueizi-wMrire — The ' Cottage Interior' — ^ Light and shade as a means of 
expression — The sketch-books of 1795 and their contents— ' High Force 
of Tees ' or ' Fall of Melincourt ' ? 

AMONG the five drawings by which Turner was represented 
/-% in the exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1794, one 
■*" "^ was a view of the Devil's Bridge, Cardiganshire. This 
was doubtless one of the first results of the sketching tour in 
Wales made in 1793. We can readily believe that Turner's 
imagination was powerfully impressed by the wild and 
gloomy scenery of the country and its romantic ruins, but his 
efforts to embody his impressions were not at first very successful. 
For the moment his powers as an architectural draughtsman 
were more in evidence than his powers of expressing grand and 
gloomy ideas. The romantic turn of his mind had to be more 
fully developed before it could command public support, and for 
the time being this phase of his art seemed swamped in the flood 
of topographical employment which the immediate success of his 
less ambitious drawings in the 1794 exhibition brought him. 

In a contemporary press notice, preserved among the Ander- 
don collection of catalogues in the Print Room of the British 
Museum, Turner's drawings of ' Christchurch Gate, Canterbury,' 
and the ' Porch of Great Malvern Abbey, Worcestershire,' are 
said to be ' amongst the best in the present exhibition. They are 
the productions,' the writer continues, ' of a very young artist, and 
give strong indications of first-rate ability ; the character of Gothic 

T. s.— 2 -I ir 


architecture is most happily preserved, and its profusion of minute 
parts massed witli judgment and tinctured with truth and fidelity. 
This young artist should beware of contemporary imitations. His 
present effort evinces an eye for nature, which should scorn to 
look to any other source.' 

The first of the drawings which called forth this praise is now 
in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Ruskin Bequest), the 
other is probably the ' INIalvern ' now in the Manchester Whit- 
worth Institute (iSTo. 73). The critic's remark about the danger of 
' contemporary imitations,' which I take to mean the danger of 
Turner imitating the works of contemporary artists, may probably 
account for his neglect to mention another drawing exhibited at 
the same time, which strikes the present-day observer as a more 
accomplished and remarkable effort than either the ' Malvern ' or 
' Christchurch Gate.' I allude to the drawing described in the 
II.A. catalogue as ' St. Anselm's Chapel with part of Thomas a 
Becket's Crown — Canterbury Cathedral,' which I take to be the 
drawing now in the Manchester Whitworth Institute (No. 272). 
This is a work of infinite patience and wary skill, a remarkable 
combination of far-sighted knowledge of ultimate effects united 
with the utmost delicacy, firmness, and patience of execution. 
These qualities do not seem to me so clearly marked either in the 
Christchurch Gate or Malvern drawings, but very hkely to the 
contemporary observer, especially to one avid of originality, the 
drawing of ' St. Anselm's Chapel ' may have appeared more 
ordinary or conventional.^ 

The success of these drawings established Turner's position as 
one of the foremost architectural and topographical draughtsmen 
of the day. But we must not make the mistake of supposing that 
Turner's success was the result of an absence of serious rivals. De 
Loutherbourg, Dayes, Hearne, Wheatley, Sandby and Hooker 
were by no means unworthy rivals. Nor must we jump to the 
conclusion that Turner, at the age of nineteen, had outstripped 
such competitors in any but the purely topographical branches of 
their profession. The best of the older men were artists of wide 

^ The fourtli architectural subject in the exhibition is described as a view of the 'Inside 
of Tintern Abbey.' If this was the drawing- now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, as the 
ewdence seems to indicate, the critic's preferences seem even more incomprehensible. On 
the whole this is, I think, a finer work even than the 'St. Anselm's Chapel.' 



sympathies and ambitions, who could not rest satisfied within 
the narrow limits of purely topographical work. They looked 
upon such work as a kind of necessary drudgery, useful from a 
pecuniary point of view, but not calling for the whole-hearted 
exercise of all their talents and enthusiasm. Dayes, to whom 
Girtin was apprenticed, and from whom Turner had learnt a great 
deal, seems to have detested topographical work, in spite of the 
skill and delicate charm with which he treated it. All his 
enthusiasm was reserved for figure subjects in the grand manner, 
for which there was no market. In this 1794 exhibition he had 
four illustrations for Dr. Aitken's Environs of Manchester, 
which have the perfunctory look of work done against the grain, 
and a ' View of Keswick Lake,' which may possibly have been the 
slight and charming drawing of this subject now in the Victoria 
and Albert Museum, too small and fragile a thing to attract much 
attention. The versatile and brilliant De Loutherbourg did not 
exhibit this year ; Heai'ne also was absent. Hooker had five of 
his delicately-accomplished but rather prosaic drawings. Paul 
Sandby had two views of Rochester Castle, and ' A View of 
Vintners at Boxley, Kent, with Mr. Whatman's Turkey Paper 
Mills,' where the excellent paper upon which almost all Turner's 
drawings were made was manufactured. Wheatley sent no land- 
scapes this year, and Girtin, Turner's senior and rival, had a single 
exhibit, a ' View of Ely Minster,' the first drawing he had had 
accepted by the Academy. The result of this state of things was 
that Turner's architectural and topographical work was pitted 
against only the perfunctory or tired work of his older rivals. For 
the moment all his indefatigable patience and amazing energy and 
skill were concentrated on this one point of attack, with imme- 
diately decisive results. 

Turner had now achieved an honourable footing in his pro- 
fession. Dr. Monro bought his ' Anselm's Chapel ' and gave him 
commissions for many other drawings. Booksellers found his 
name an attraction. With publishers ready to buy his drawings, 
though at prices that would merely excite the derision of a 
modern artist, and with patrons like Dr. Monro ready to encourage 
his more ambitious efforts, his opportunities of travel were greatly 



Turner spent the summer of 1794 making a tour of the 
midland counties of England. Northampton, Birmingham, Lich- 
field, Shrewsbury, Wrexham, Chester, Matlock, Derby, Notting- 
ham, Lincoln, Peterborough, Cambridge and Waltham were 
among the places he visited. The views published in the Copper 
Plate Magazine during the next three years of Nottingham, 
Bridgenorth, Matlock, Birmingham, Chester, Peterborough and 
Flint were made from sketches taken on this journey, as were also 
those of King's College, Cambridge, Flint, and Northampton, 
published in the Pocket 3Iagazi7ie during 1795. But these were 
the least important results of the tour. The work into which 
Turner threw all his enthusiasm and ambition was sent to the 
exhibition of the Royal Academy of 1795, Avhich contained no 
less than eight of his important and highly-finished drawings. 
The best known of these are the ' Peterborough Cathedral ; 
West Entrance,' which was included in Messrs. Agnews' 1908 
annual exhibition of water-colours — it had suffered somewhat 
from the light and had been restored, but was still an impressive 
work ; the ' Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury,' now No. 276 in the 
Manchester Whitworth Institute, a carefully wrought and ex- 
quisitely accomplished drawing ; and the ' Cathedral Church at 
Lincoln' (Plate v.) now in the Print Room. This elaborately 
finished drawing, I am inclined to think, played an important 
part in Turner's development. It is almost the only drawing I 
know from his hand which has a papery and unconvincing general 
effect, which is monotonous and insensitive in its textures, and 
hard and metallic in its details. For once in a way Turner seems 
to have deferred to the ideals of elaboration of the ordinary con- 
noisseur, who likes to see every detail in every part of a work 
pushed to its highest point of finish. For these reasons the draw- 
ing must have been very generally admired when it was first 
exhibited, but Turner could not have been satisfied at all with his 
own work, for he promptly abandoned the style. This is the 
most ' mappy ' of all Turner's drawings, and we know that for the 
rest of his life he had the greatest horror of this quality. 

When we examine the pencil drawings made from nature on 
this tour we find them all severely governed by the ends they 
were intended to serve. The sketches for the publishers' work 




(Prbit Room. British I\htscian) 







PENQIL. 1794 


are generally made in a small note-book (about 4<^ x 6f inches 
in size). They are invariably in pure outline, without the slightest 
suggestion of light and shade — nothing but the scaffolding of the 
more important shapes upon which the final designs were to be 
elaborated. On such a small scale the ease and grace of Turner's 
touch are not much in evidence. The sketches are severely business- 
like, and done as quickly and with as little effort as possible. There 
is more effort and feeling in the casual studies with which the leaves 
of this sketch-book are interspersed. The accompanying sketch 
(Plate VII.) of a pony standing ready saddled gives a good idea of 
the mature wisdom of Turner's style of sketching at this period, its 
determination to grasp the larger truths of form and structure, 
as well as the quickness, readiness, and versatility of his powers 
of perception. 

The drawings for the more ambitious subjects are generally 
made on larger and separate pieces of paper about 8 x 10^^ 
inches in size. On this scale the delicate play of the artist's 
wrist becomes appreciable. The dominant impression left by 
a glance through these drawings is one of excessive orderliness 
and methodical neatness. There is no hurry, no scamped or 
perfunctory work, still less are there any signs of dilatoriness or 
even slowness. The artist's respect for relevant fact is equalled by 
his appreciation of the value of time. His calm objective out- 
look, his steady, unwavering grasp of general principles enable 
him at every point to economise his labours, to store up the 
record of the greatest possible amount of material facts {i.e. of 
facts material to his purpose) with the utmost celerity, clearness, 
and the least possible expenditure of manual effort. This is 
particularly noticeable in the treatment of the towers in the 
Lincoln Cathedral drawing (Plate vi.), where every advantage 
has been taken of the repetition of forms. A possible, though 
not a very satisfactory, way of doing justice to the predominance 
of conceptual over purely visual elements in this work, would be 
to say that the artist has here drawn with his head rather than his 
eye, that he puts down not so much what he sees as what he 

I am tempted to linger for a moment over the placid and self- 
contained air of this phase of Turner's work, because we shall so 



soon get into an altogether different atmosphere, and because we 
shall understand Turner's after work all the better the more 
clearly we grasp the character of the work we are now examining. 
The self-contained air to which I allude is connected in my mind 
with the character and limitations of topographical work. Now 
the essential character of topographical and purely antiquarian 
work is that it does not aim primarily at expressing the imagina- 
tive or emotional effects of the objects it represents. It takes 
these imaginative or emotional interests for granted, relying 
indeed on them for the ultimate justification of its work; but the 
work, as topographical and antiquarian, aims directly only at an 
adequate representation of the particular scenes or buildings with 
Avhich it is concerned. There is, as it were, a tacit division of 
labour ; the artist being called upon to record accurately and 
vividly a certain scene or building, merely as a scene or building, 
while the spectator is expected to supply the requisite mental 
associations and emotional colouring. The artist draws a castle, 
we will say, as a mere object of sight, while the spectator is 
supposed to remember that the castle was built by such and such 
a king, and that certain moving events took place in it or near it. 
This division of labour simplifies the work of the topographical 
artist, reducing his business to a clear-cut affair of definite visual 
facts. Hence the Oriental stolidity of Turner's topographical 
work, its Oriental patience, neatness, and precision. In a draw- 
ing like the ' Lincoln Cathedral ' Turner is as wholly immersed in 
the succession of particular material facts as a Japanese or 
Chinese artist. As with the Japanese and Chinese artists the 
material facts are not there entirely for their own sakes ; in 
Turner's case they imply an antiquarian interest, as the Eastern 
artists' work implies an added religious or poetical significance. 
But the point to which I desire to draw attention is, that this 
added significance is not embodied in the work itself. It is some- 
thing extraneous and fortuitous, and the work itself falls apart 
into something dependent. It is in fact an accessory, a work of 
mere illustration, not an independent work of art. 

We shall have to return to this subject in our next chapter, 
when we find Turner wrenching himself free from the trammels 
of topography and antiquarianism to soar into the regions of 

•2 '2 




^■^ ^ 





artistic freedom. In the meantime we will turn our attention to 
the topographical drawings which Turner sent to the exhibition 
of 1796. 

Of the eleven drawings by which Turner was represented at 
the Royal Academy this year, nine were apparently of a topo- 
graphical character. I have only been able to examine two of 
these recently — the ' Transept and Choir of Ely Minster,' in the 
late Mr. B,. F. Holt's collection, and the ' LlandafF Cathedral,' in 
the National Gallery (Exhibited Drawings No. 795). If we may 
judge from the rather cold impression these two drawings make 
upon us, it is probable that they owe their existence rather to the 
artist's professional diligence than to any overmastering impulse 
towards artistic expression. But the work, if not particularly 
enthusiastic, is distinguished by its thoroughness and workman- 
like spirit. Every mechanical difficulty is fairly faced and 
mastered with imperturbable coolness, patience, and dexterity. 
So palpably is the artist's attention fixed upon the executive side 
of his art, especially in the ' LlandafF Cathedral,' that a contem- 
porary prophet might well have been excused if he had seen in it 
only the promise of the making of a marvellous petit-maitre, and 
had declared that its author could not be possessed of a spark of 
native genius. 

Perhaps if we could see either of the two other drawings 
which, to judge from their titles, were neither topographical nor 
antiquarian in subject, we might find evidence which would induce 
us to modify this dominant impression of intellectual coldness 
and unruffled placidity. In particular, the title ' Fishermen at 
Sea ' seems to suggest possibilities of romantic expressiveness, 
especially when we know that the subject was treated by the 
same hand that was to give us in a few years' time the 'Calais Pier,' 
Lord Iveagh's ' Fishermen on a Lee- Shore,' and the ' Shipwreck.' 
But this drawing has not been traced, and the second drawing, 
the ' Internal (or interior) of a Cottage,' has apparently shared 
the same fate. 

There is, however, a slight possibility that the latter subject 
may be correctly identified with the small drawing in the National 
Gallery, exhibited under the title of 'Cottage Interior' (406 
N.G.). This drawing has been, somewhat rashly, supposed to 



represent the underground kitchen beneath the barber "s shop 
in Maiden Lane. There are absolutely no grounds for such an 
assumption, and a moderately careful examination of the drawing 
shows that it does not represent an underground kitchen or room 
of any kind. It is clearly a room on the ground-floor, but the 
lower part of the window has been curtained off, with the object 
of getting a picturesque arrangement of light and shade, and 
this fact may have lent some plausibility to the suggestion that 
the light was falling through a grating above. If I am right in 
identifying this drawing with the 1796 exhibit the study was made 
at Ely, as the catalogue informs us. 

But whether this drawing was exhibited at the Academy or 
not, it clearly belongs from internal evidence to the latter part of 
1795 or the beginning of 1796. It therefore offers us an interest- 
ing connecting link in the development of Turner's art, showing 
the line of study which turned the youthful topographer into the 
romantic artist. 

Yet there is little of the romantic spirit on the face of this 
drawing. A poor interior bathed in gloom, with a narrow stream 
of light falling on an old woman sitting beside a copper and 
surrounded by an array of pots and pans. But it is significant, 
because it bears witness to the direction of Turner's mind to the 
study of light and shade as a separate vehicle of expression. In 
the topographical drawings proper, light and shade is not used for 
its emotional effect, but simply as a means of representation, that 
is to say, to bring out the shapes and details. In the ' Interior ' 
we see Turner beginning to isolate the system of light and shade, 
to study and grasp its possibilities as a separate factor of artistic 

But if we turn to the sketch-books containing the record of 
Turner's summer wanderings in 1795, we find no lack of evidence 
of the essentially artistic cast of his mind, and of his wide sym- 
pathies with nature. His journeys this year were mainly confined 
to portions of the coast-line, to the Isle of Wight, and the south 
coast of Wales from Chepstow to Pembroke Bay. It was not by 
any means the first time he had seen the sea, but he was then able 
to study it more closely than before, and under its wilder aspects 
and conditions. 


The outward appearance of the two principal sketch-books 
used this year bears clear indication of bright professional 
prospects. These handsome calf-bound volumes, each with four 
brass clasps, put forward solid claims to respect — claims which a 
young artist standing alone without a backing of influential 
patrons would shrink from advancing. Opening the book devoted 
to the Isle of Wight subjects, we find the first page headed in ink 
with the words ' Order'd Drawings,' and underneath a record of 
subjects and sizes of drawings to be made for Sir Richard Colt 
Hoare and Mr. Charles Landseer, the engraver. In the South 
AVales book we find the record of further commissions from these 
two patrons, and others from Viscount IMalden, Dr. Mathews, 
Mr. Laurie, IMr. Lambert, INIr. JNIitchell and Mr. Kershaw. 
These indications suggest that the drawings in these volumes 
were not made entirely for the artist's own use and enjoyment. 
They are certainly for use, as their neat and careful array of details 
proves, but they were also destined to bear the scrutiny of possible 
patrons, and excite, if possible, a desire in their breasts to see 
them carried out in a more elaborate medium. This may account 
for a certain smugness or primness in much of the work itself, for 
its faint suggestion of youthful conceit and a priggish air of 
conscious rectitude. 

The sketching tour opens at Winchester, and we can follow 
the artist to Salisbury and Southampton. We then find him 
suddenly at Newport, in the Isle of Wight. The remainder of 
the book is devoted to this island. At Newport Turner was 
chiefly interested in Carisbrook Castle. We can then trace his 
footsteps southward to Ventnor and along the South-West coast 
to the Needles ; thence back to Newport, with a visit to Brading, 
where he made a delightful drawing, partly finished in water- 
colour, of Bembridge Mill. 

The workmanship throughout is admirably deft, graceful and 
accomplished. It is not, however, till the artist gets to the open 
sea round the Needles that his imagination seems stirred at all. 
In the centre of the drawing on page 39 stands the blunt face 
of the chalk cliffs ; on the left, the incoming waves play round a 
few broken stumps of rock. Between the cliffs and the spectator 
there is a small bay in which some fishermen's boats ride on the 



rising tide. The waves play prettily with the boats, but these are 
carefully tethered fore and aft, thus showing that their owners 
have learnt to mistrust the gracefully advancing waters. In the 
distance the cold dark volume of sea seems to justify these 
suspicions. Gradually a sense of the sternness of the eternal 
conflict between the sea and the dry land impresses itself on our 
minds. The whole coast seems in the clutch of a ruthless and 
never- resting foe. In some scenes the high cliffs seem to stand 
proudly and defiantly in the water ; here they are in full retreat, 
the havoc of the foreground proving that the soft chalk is crumb- 
ling at the touch of its pitiless enemy. 

And now we can see the usefulness of the discipline and 
training of topographical draughtsmanship. Confronted with a 
scene like this, which powerfully stirs his emotions, the artist is 
not forced to remain dumb ; he has an organ of expression ready 
to his hand. The supple pencil-point hurries its suggestive 
outlines over the paper. There is yet time to add some record of 
the more delicate passages of modelling, and to suggest something 
of the colour of the water and cliffs. The artist's brush is as 
docile as his pencil. There is no experimental blottmg and 
splashing; every touch is expressive, and the pressure of haste 
only adds greater certainty to the swift touches. The artist has 
to stop before he has tinted half his paper, but he has torn out the 
heart of his subject. 

Leaving the Isle of Wight, Turner made his way to South 
Wales, passing through Wells. The scenery of South Wales 
is of a wilder description than that of the Isle of Wight, and 
it must have touched his imagination profoundly. But thanks 
to his ready science, his hand never falters ; all the ruined castles 
and abbeys, the water-mills and water-falls, the details of the 
rocky coast-line, the white-crested waves and tangled forests, are 
bundled with celerity into neat little outlines and stored ready 
for future use. Among the subjects are the castles of Kidwelly, 
Carew, Laugharne, Llanstephen and Goodrich, and they are 
drawn as they had never before been drawn or will be again. 
One of the views of Carew Castle will serve the artist thirty 
years later when he comes to treat this subject for his ' England 
and Wales ' series. But to me the most significant drawing in 





l-KNCII-, I'ART l.\- WATER COI.OUIv'. 1795 


the book is the waterfall on page 8. The whole subject is drawn 
in with the pencil as usual, and then just the most important part 
is finished in water-colour. This piece of water-colour work is 
an admirable example of Turner's sensitiveness to impressions, 
his quickness and readiness, and the adaptability of his methods. 
The rocks and the crystalline facets of the water at the top of 
the fall are painted in with sharp staccato touches, while the 
skilful dragging of the dry brush suggests the dissolving of the 
water into spray with extraordinary vivacity. 

This drawing forms our eighth illustration, though no repro- 
duction can do justice to it. Mr. Ruskin admired the work 
warmly, and it formed part of the selection he made for the 
Oxford Loan Collection. He named the drawing the ' High 
Force of Tees,' but I believe this description to be incorrect. In 
the sketch-book the leaf on which the drawing is made follows 
immediately a drawing of the water-mill at Aberdulas, and a 
note made on the fly-leaf of the book, written by Turner for his 
own guidance on the tour, mentions that the ' Rocks and Water- 
fall' near Aberdulas were 'well worth attention.' The nearest 
waterfall to Aberdulas is the cascade formed by the river 
Clydach, known as the Fall of Melincourt. I have therefore 
ventured to substitute this title for Mr. Ruskin's ' High Force of 

An artist so sensitive to the subtlety and mystery of natural 
scenery, as these sketch-books show Turner to have been, and one 
so unusually gifted to express these qualities, could not long be 
confined within the prosaic limits of topographical and antiquarian 



THE SUBLIME— 1797-1802 

Change from pure form to light and shade — ' Millbank ' and 'Ewenny 
Priory' — Contrast between 'Ewenny' and 'LlandafF' — The transition 
from objectivity to subjectivity — The growth of taste for the SubHme — 
There are no subhme objects, but only objects of sublime feeling — No 
guidance but from art — The Wilson tradition — The two elements in the 
sketches and studies of this period, (l) The study of Nature, and (2) The 
assimilation of the Wilson tradition — In the 1797 sketches these two 
operations are kept distinct — The North of England tour and its record — 
'Studies for Pictures: Copies of Wilson' — The two operations begin to 
coalesce in the 1798 and 1799 sketches — The origin of 'Jason' — The 
Scotch (1801) and Swiss (1802) tours. 

THERE is an evident connection between such a study 
of light and shade as the ' Interior of a Cottage ' (406 
National Gallery) and at least two of the exhibits in the 
exhibition of 1797. One of these, the ' Moonlight, a study at 
Millbank,' was probably Turner's first exhibited oil painting ; the 
other, ' Transept of Ewenny Priory, Glamorganshire,' I am inclined 
to regard as the first drawing in which the budding genius of the 
young artist was authoritatively announced. It is impossible to 
be sure whether the direction of Turner's attention to the subtler 
problems of light and shade led him to turn to oil painting as 
a more suitable medium for the expression of such effects, or 
whether his resolution to explore the resources of the more 
complex medium had the effect of directing his attention to the 
expressional qualities of light and shade. The ' Millbank ' bears 
on its face the evidence of Dutch influence (Van der Neer, van 
Goyen, etc.) as well as of inexperience of the technical require- 
ments of the new medium. This inexperience renders the work 


tek^ti^ti'^i ■Ills*' ^ 



PENCIL. 1797 


insignificant with regard to the development of the artist's 
personaUty, but the bent of his mind towards the mystery and 
expressiveness of darkness is notable. 

In the water-colour of ' Ewenny Priory ' — now one of the chief 
treasures of the Cardiff Art Gallery (Pyke-Thompson Bequest) — 
Turner's genius is less hampered by technical difficulties. If this 
be indeed the drawing that was exhibited in 1797 ^ it shows an 
amazingly rapid development in the artist's powers, especially 
when we compare it with the ' LlandafF Cathedral ' (790, National 
Gallery), which was exhibited only twelve months earlier. The 
'LlandafF' is merely the work of a clever and skilful topo- 
graphical draughtsman, the ' Ewenny ' is the work of a powerful 
imaginative artist. The gloomy interior of the Norman ruin is no 
longer an object to be measured, dated, classified and labelled. It 
is no longer an 'interestmg specimen' that we have set before 
us. The artist has now broken with the ordinary, every-day 
world of sense-experience, and we plunge with him into the world 
of the imagination, where objects are no longer separated from 
and held over against the self; they now throb and tingle with 
our own emotional life. 

This change of aim — we may speak of it for the sake of brevity 
as the change from objectivity to subjectivity — is accompanied by 
a change of method m the workmanship of the two drawings. In 
the 'Llandaff' (as in the 'Lincoln') the forms of aU the objects 
are made out with the greatest possible clearness. When the 
artist has told us as clearly and precisely as possible the exact 
shape of every object from his chosen point of view, we feel that 
he has done all that he set out to do, and all that we can reason- 
ably demand firom him. Then these objects are left standing side 
by side in relative independence of each other and of us ; they 
have no necessary connection one with the other, Hke the parts of 
a piece of music, or the points of an argument. Their only bond 
of union is the abstract one of space. The whole effect is of some- 
thing severed from direct experience ; the objects represented 

1 For it appears that there is some doubt about the matter. The Rev. E. S. Dewick 
possesses another version of this subject, similar in size and design, but very inferior in 
workmanship. The clumsiness and woodenness of the workmanship have been taken as 
evidence that the drawing was an earlier one than that at Cardiff. But it may also indicate 
that it is merely the work of an unskilful copyist. 



have an unreal air of permanence and immutability, with some- 
thing of the intellectual coldness and aloofness of a diagram or 
mathematical symbol. 

In the ' Ewenny ' drawing we are brought into contact with 
objects which have not yet been severed from the emotional 
colouring of immediate experience. Instead of a series of abstract 
spatial determinations, appealing only to the abstract under- 
standing, we now have a presentation fraught with the infinite 
suggestiveness of living, sensible experience. Each object repre- 
sented is now no longer held over against the self as something 
alien, something indifferent to and independent of humanity, Uke 
the laws of the physical sciences ; each object has now become 
merely a moment in the affective life of an individual. It there- 
fore touches our own feelings, challenges our hopes and fears, 
appeals intimately to our sympathies with the contagion of the 
emotions of an actual companion. We cannot remain indifferent 
to such an appeal if we would. Unless our nerves tingle as the 
eye plunges from the famiUar objects of the foreground into the 
gloom beyond, the picture has not begun to exist for us. But 
immediately it touches our inner life into responsive activity the 
picture becomes transformed from so much indifferent paper and 
pigment into an aspect of our own affective life. We have caught 
the contagion of the artist's emotional experience, in which the 
objects of his representation were submerged. 

I am far from wishing to suggest that the distinction between 
the two kinds of art which I have endeavoured to indicate is either 
very obvious or easy to grasp. But it is, I am convinced, a very 
real and a very weighty distinction, and as such is worthy of the 
most careful study. But, however carefully we study the matter, 
and however profoundly convinced we may be that the distinction 
is firmly grounded in the essential nature of art itself, yet we can 
never hope to describe it in the precise terms of the exact sciences. 
We can never hope to understand the exact nature of the ties 
which bmd the expressive symbols of Romantic art to the echoes 
they awaken with mathematical certainty in the breast of each 
individual. The problem of the relation between thought and 
feeling still agitates the rival schools of philosophy, and this is not 
the place to discuss such matters. What is immediately important 





for us is to see that Turner's art has passed from one stage of 
growth to another, and to realise for ourselves as best we can the 
nature of this progression. To me it seems clear that the line of 
Turner's personal development is following roughly the line upon 
which the artistic faculty of mankind has developed ; that the 
transition from topography to the stage we have now entered upon 
coincides in part with the movement from Classic to Romantic 
art, from the art which is in bondage to the world of external 
reality, to the art which moves and has its being in the inner 
world of our ideas and feelings. The 'Llandaif' and 'Lincoln' 
belong to the classic (or the pseudo-classic, if you will) art of the 
eighteenth century, while the ' Ewenny ' inaugurates the Romantic 
art of the nineteenth century. On its technical side the change is 
from form to tone, from a system of predominantly unemotional 
space-determinations to a medium which is more immediately in 
contact with the inward feeling of all self-conscious beings. 

In moving from the Augustan point of view towards the 
Romantic, Turner was but walking in an already well-beaten 
track. During the last half-century the influence of Milton had 
been growing, the taste for the gloomy, the mysterious and the 
picturesque had found expression in Young's Night Thoughts, in 
Gray's Elegy, in Walpole's Castle of Otranto, and had found 
critical exponents in Warton's History of English Poetry, and 
in Burke's Essay On the Sublime and Beautiful, (1756). Dr. 
Percy's Reliques had found many readers and admirers, and 
Macpherson's Ossian had stirred the enthusiasm of Europe. In 
painting Richard Wilson and^ De Loutherbourg had struck the 
same note of gloomy grandeur. 

Now the essence of this kind of art — the Sublime — is not 
merely to strike the spectator dumb with amazement or terror, 
but also to make him feel that man's moral freedom is superior 
to the most terrible forces of Nature.^ The mere representation 
of the fearful and terrible sights of inorganic nature is therefore 
not by itself enough to evoke a feeling of the sublime ; before he 
can do this the artist must also excite in the spectator the con- 
sciousness of his power to overcome or resist such objects. It is 

1 Cf. Bosanquet's History of JEsthetic, p. 277; also Kant's Kritik of Judgment, sections 
28 and 29. 



therefore a purely subjective feeling that the artist has to re- 
present, though this feeling is directed towards or centred round 
a certain definite series of objects. But these objects as coloured 
with the strength and resolution of the heroic mood — the mood of 
Kant's ani?ni strenui ^ — cannot properly be said to exist as natural 
objects. The real subject of the artist's work is therefore, strictly 
speaking, the invisible and the intangible, a mere mood of the soul, 
an attitude of our own mind towards certain objects of thought. 

Of course we should all have been justified before the feat had 
been accomplished, in declaring that it was impossible for pictorial 
art to paint the invisible, but now that it has been accomplished 
we have no alternative but to recognise the fact. Common-sense 
says the thing is impossible, and experience proves to us that 
common-sense is wrong. The careful student of modern criticism 
will know how splendidly JNIr. Ruskin fought against experience 
in this matter and how he was worsted. I am really sorry for 
common-sense. To paint the invisible and intangible — it is a hard 
nut to crack. But 1 protest we have no choice in the matter. 
The thing is there before us. It is a pity it is not quite so simple 
and easy as we should like it to be, but it is best, I think, to face 
the difficulties honestly. 

Turner's problem, then, as a painter of the sublime, was one in 
which the mere study of natural objects could not help him. He 
might search out the most fearful sights in nature, watch the 
loftiest waterfall of the mightiest river, volcanoes in all their 
violence of destruction, hurricanes, lightning flashes and storms, 
but these objects alone, though they might stimulate his feel- 
ing of moral freedom, could not show him how to express this 
faculty of moral resistance which ' gives us,' as Kant says, ' the 
courage to measure ourselves against the apparent almightiness 
of nature.' ^ There was no help for Turner in this task but in 
the works of those artists who had succeeded in expressing such 
emotions, and it was to Wilson and De Luutherbourg that Turner 
went, not to learn how to represent natural objects as such, but to 
learn how to use such objects as the media of inward perceptions 
and ideas. De Loutherbourg's influence was mainly in the direc- 
tion of rhodomontade and melodrama, but Wilson's, though not 

1 Op. cit. (Dr. Bernard's translation), p. 111. ^ Op. cit. p. 125. 



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devoid of danger, led Turner safely into the enchanted regions of 

The three chief expressive — as distinguished from representa- 
tive — factors in Wilson's work are darkness of tone, the scheme 
of colour, and the quality of the paint. I am inclined to think 
that the general darkness of Wilson's pictures is the necessary 
result of the kind of subjects he treated. The darkness is necessary 
to tune the mind of the spectator to gloomy and tragic thoughts, 
— to spread over his mind what Johnson calls ' a general obscurity 
of sacred horror, that oppresses distinction, and disdains expres- 
sion.' In his worst pictures this darkness of key readily passes 
into emptiness and blackness ; but in his best pictures this dark- 
ness ranges through a gamut of subdued and glowing colour, 
which relieves the gloom and comforts us as it were in our distress. 
The tone and colour are thus to some extent determined by the 
character of the objects represented ; the tone by their general 
emotional effect, and the colour scheme as conditioned by the 
tone, though controlled within rather wide limits by the natural 
colours of the objects represented. But the third element, the 
quality of the paint, seems altogether independent of the objects 
represented. It seems to reveal only the artist's attitude towards 
these objects. It is as thoroughly subjective as the emotional 
vibration in the voice of an excited speaker. Under this term, 
the quality of the paint, I include all the immediate presentative 
elements of painting, the thickness or thinness of the impasto, the 
way the paint is put on, the signs of the brushwork, everything, in 
short, that tells us how the artist felt towards the objects he was 

The main object of Turner's study during the period we are 
deahng with was the assimilation of the Wilson tradition, his 
study of the facts of Nature, simply as facts, falling into the 
second place. For a time the two lines of study are kept distinct. 
On the one hand, the work of neat and systematic note-taking 
face to face with nature is continued, and on the other hand, a 
number of studies aiming at the embodiment of the artist's sub- 
jective attitude make their appearance. The final synthesis of the 
two factors, the without and the within, is of course only arrived 
at in the finished work of art, but the contents of the sketch-books 

T.S.-3 33 


of this period fall easily apart, according as they lean either in the 
direction of the particular facts or in the direction of the emotional 

The drawings made during the tour in the north of England, 
which Turner made in the summer of 1797, belong almost entirely 
to the first kind. In one sketch-book we find most of the more 
important ruined abbeys and castles of Yorkshire, Durham, and 
Northumberland drawn with the most delightful ease, accuracy, 
and charm. Here we have Kirkstall Abbey drawn from every 
available point of view, Ripon Cathedral, studied both without 
and within, Barnard and Richmond Castles, Dunstanborough, 
Bamborough, Durham Castle and Cathedral, Warkworth, Lindis- 
farne and Norham. The drawing of the interior of Ripon 
Cathedral, reproduced as Plate ix., is merely an average example 
of the kind of work that Turner now seemed to produce without 
the slightest effort. The most complicated structure and detail 
now presented no difficulties to his well-trained eye and hand. 
The ease with which he mastered all the material forms that met 
his eye may have left his mind at leisure to enjoy the moral 
atmosphere of the buildings, may have left his imagination free to 
range backward over its past history ; but there is no trace of 
emotion or imagination in the graceful play of these clear-cut, 
accurate, and methodical outlines. 

Melrose Abbey formed the highest point north in this journey. 
Leaving Melrose, Turner struck across to Cumberland, no doubt 
passing through Carlisle to Keswick. After the bustle and noise 
of much of the northward half of his journey, the peace and quiet 
of the English lakes must have been noticeable. In looking 
through the hundred or more pencil sketches made at Keswick, 
Buttermere, Ullswater, Patterdale, Windermere, Coniston, etc., 
one is struck by the absence of the conventional note of Romantic 
horror. There is no trace of what used to be called the bold and 
appalling singularities of nature.^ There is indeed a marked 
absence of human activity in these drawings. We are alone with 

^ The conventional eighteenth-century attitude towards these scenes seems well 
expressed by a description in Paterson's Road Book. 'To the south of the Derwent- water.' 
the passage runs, 'is the rocky chasm of Borrowdale, a tremendous pass, at the entrance of 
which dark caverns yawn terrific as the wildness of a maniac, etc./ page 435. 



< 5 
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nature, but nature's aspect is generally peaceful and friendly. The 
mountains are high, but we enjoy climbing them and the fine 
views we get there. Their shapes above all interest us immensely. 
They do not strike us at all as appalling singularities, but as 
replete with an infinite grace and variety, under which we feel a 
fundamental reasonableness, an intuitive sense of intelligible 
design. And then there are not only the bare shapes, but their 
wonderful clothing of hght and shade ; the play of the gleams of 
sunlight and the long shadows across the deep bosoms of the hills, 
and the games the wreaths of mist and cloud play with the distant 
mountain-tops, and the wild races of the mountain-torrents over 
their favourite tracks. Occasionally there is time for more than 
the regulation pencil outline. Then the brush and a few colours 
come out, and a stretch of the distance wakes from its cold abstrac- 
tion into life. Such sketches as ' The Head of Derwentwater, 
with Lodore Falls and the entrance to Borrowdale,' the ' Hills of 
Glaramara,' and ' Buttermere Lake ' (Exhibited Drawings, No. 
696), were produced in this way. In these we see beautiful 
effects of mist, with the sun playing through them, noted with 
subtle sympathy and accuracy, but the general effect is not at all 
gloomy ; it is rather one of peace, serenity, and gladness. 

This is the raw material out of which Turner set to work in 
the autumn and winter of 1797 to manufacture some important 
oU pictures full of gloom and wrath. The young artist reminds 
me of Johnson's acquaintance who had resolved to be a philosopher, 
but found his native cheerfulness always breaking through. 
Turner's unaffected delight in Nature certainly stood in the way 
of his aspiration towards the subhme. But he was not a man to 
be easily thwarted. We can trace in the pictures exhibited in 
1798 the conflict between the elements given in perception and 
the subjective requirements of the artist, but by sheer diligence 
and strength of will he succeeded in moulding his cheerful per- 
ceptions into concepts full of gloom and horror. The picture of 
'Buttermere' (N.G., at present on loan to the Albert Memorial 
Museum, Exeter) is based on a pale and delicately-charming water- 
colour drawing (696, N.G.), but little of the charm or delicacy of 
the original sketch survives in the oil painting, which is ruthlessly 
swamped in more than Wilsonian blackness. He succeeded best 



where the record of his perceptions was shghtest. There are 
several sketches of Norham Castle, but they are all in pencil 
and very slight. For some reason or other the artist was evidently 
in a hurry. Perhaps partly because of this insufficient note-taking, 
here was a favourable subject round which his imagination was 
free to play, unhampered by any very clearly determined imme- 
diate perceptions. The picture of Norham Castle, exhibited at 
Somerset House in 1798, was Turner's first distinct success in this 
kind of work, and he repeated the subject several times. 

A small green-covered pocket-book, which still bears Turner's 
label, ' Studies for Pictures : Copies of Wilson,' gives us a 
glimpse of the processes by which the sights of nature were con- 
verted into works of art. Here we see the subjective impulses of 
the artist struggling into expression ; the artist's love of gorgeous 
colour and dramatic effect nourishing itself and forging a material 
foim for its own support. Among the designs in this interesting 
little book are several marine and coast subjects, a shipwreck, an 
interior of a forge with men busy casting an anchor, some river 
scenes, a rainbow standing over a dark city, several church 
interiors, and some studies of turbulent skies. It is difficult to 
distinguish Turner's studies for his own pictures from his copies of 
Wilson, but one of the drawings is probably a copy of Wilson's 
' Morning,' and another, of his ' Bridge of Augustus at Rimini.' I 
have not been able to see either of these original pictures, so 
as to compare them with Turner's copy, but a comparison of 
the copy with the engraving by Joseph Farington, published 
by Boydell, shows some important discrepancies in the arrange- 
ment of the light and shade. The character of these discrep- 
ancies leads one to suppose that they were not made intentionally 
by Turner, but were the result of his attempt to reproduce the 
general effect of the picture from memory. He may have made 
a slight pencil sketch of the picture in some gallery, and washed 
in the general effect afterwards from memory. 

This is, of course, only a supposition, but it is somewhat 
strengthened by examination of a larger and more elaborate copy 
of Wilson's ' Landscape Avith Figures,' a picture now in the 
National Gallery (No. 1290). That Turner's water-colour is 
intended to be a copy is proved by the endorsement on its back — 



OS - 
2 2 

9 5 











' Study from Wilson,' but when we compare it with the original 
we find that the various discrepancies in the copy can only be 
accounted for by supposing that Turner was working to a con- 
siderable extent from memory. I admit the evidence is not con- 
clusive, but I do not think we shall be far wrong if we take it 
that Turner did not at this time make any elaborate copies of 
Wilson's pictures, but that he studied them closely and enthusias- 
tically, and relied more upon his memory than his notes. 

In the sketches made during the following years we find that 
these two separate operations show a tendency to coalesce. 
Turner has evidently taken a dislike to his earlier map-making 
style, and tries hard to see nature like Wilson. His sketches 
from nature become slighter and more hurried. In his efforts 
towards breadth he comes very near emptir\ess, and in his attempts 
to get away from his neat bit-by-bit style of work he often comes 
near downright clumsiness and carelessness. 

The summers of 1798 and 1799 were largely spent in North 
Wales. Here he found exactly the material that chimed in with 
the mood of sternness and gloom he wished to express : steep, 
convulsive mountains, wild valleys and broken passes, the bare 
skeletonlike ribs of broken ships aground on lonely estuaries, 
massive ruins of huge castles perched on inaccessible crags, 
gnawed to the bone as it were by the wind and rain and 
remorseless Time. 

His mental grasp has clearly broadened. He no longer sees 
buildings as isolated objects, but they now fall into their places as 
incidents in the wide panorama of the country. Nothing is now 
drawn for itself; the trees are emanations from the ground, the 
dry land and the waters are kinsmen, the stones in the foreground 
are parts of the distant mountains, and the mountains huge elder 
brothers of the pebbles by the river-side. The bubbling waters 
are but clouds made captive, the clouds the freed souls of the 
brooks, the trees the organ of their transformation ; and castles 
like Conway, standing with their roots plunged deep into their 
rocky foundations, seem but rocks raised to a higher power. The 
distinction between human art and physical nature is everywhere 
broken down. The spirit of life in nature is identified with the 
volitions and passions of the artist's own soul : he has become 



sensible ' to the moods of time and season, to the moral power, 
the affections and the spirit of the place.' ^ 

This state of mind is closely akin to the mood in which the 
myths of the Old World had taken shape. Small wonder, then, if 
the broken and withered branches of a stricken tree writhing 
among vigorously shootmg brushwood should suggest to Turner's 
mobile fancy the idea of snakes and dragons. The sketch here 
reproduced (Plate xiii.) strikes me as probably the origin of the 
picture of ' Jason ' which was exhibited in 1802. 

In 1800 or 1801 Turner made a tour through the Highlands of 
Scotland. The immediate results were slightly disappointing, 
but the experience gained undoubtedly contributed to the effec- 
tiveness of the work done during the first visit to Switzerland, 
made in 1802. In the Scotch sketches Turner had hit upon a 
method of working that enabled him to cover a great deal of 
ground in a short space of time, and which had the additional 
advantage of exercising his memory, and of making his sketches 
from nature more like the first draughts of his finished pictures 
than like so many unfused notes or memoranda. All the more 
promising scenes he met with were sketched slightly in chalk 
upon large sheets of paper prepared with a wash of light brown. 
These sketches were seldom carried far before the actual scenes, 
but as soon after as was convenient — possibly at the inn in the 
evening — these skeletons were filled up from the artist's retentive 
memory and ever-ready invention. In this way he was able to 
fortify himself against the multiplicity of nature's irrelevant facts, 
and to find a ready form of expression for the reaction of his own 
mind upon the sights of nature. 

Colour was very little used in the Scotch sketches, all the 
larger drawings — numbering, I think, between forty and fifty — 
being worked entirely in black and white. But a considerable 
number of the Swiss drawings are coloured, though, I believe, 
none of them directly from nature. Turner's procedure in the 
case of these drawings appears to have been practically the same 
as with the Scotch series, but after the skeleton sketch from 
nature had been elaborated with pencil and white and black 
chalk, colour was sometimes resorted to, less as a record of facts 

' Wordsworth, Prelude, Bk. xii. 118-120. 




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of local colour, than as an additional instrument of expression of 
the subjective mood. Among the drawings elaborated in this way 
are the sketches upon which several of the Farnley drawings (the 
large ' Mer de Glace, Chamounix,' ' Falls of the Reichenbach,' 
'Pass of St, Gothard,' 'Blair's Hut, Mer de Glace,'^ etc.), were 
based. In some cases the finished works are less impressive than 
the first sketches, which are almost overpowering in their concen- 
trated vehemence and gloomy majesty. But we must beware of 
regarding these as simple sketches from nature. They are more 
strictly studies for pictures than sketches from nature, and it is 
hardly too much to say that they owe more of their energetic 
emotional appeal to the Wilson tradition, which Turner had by 
this time thoroughly assimilated, than to the immediate inspira- 
tion of nature. 

^ See Plate xvi. for the study for the Farnley picture. 



THE SEA-PAINTER— 1802-1809 

Connection between marine painting and the sublime — Turner's first 
marine subjects — The ' Bridgewater sea-piece ' — ' Meeting of the Thames 
and Medway ' — 'Our landing at Calais' and 'Calais Pier' — 'Fishermen 
upon a Lee Shore ' — ' Guisborough Shore' and 'Dunbar' sketch-books — 
' The Shipwreck ' — ' At the Mouth of the Thames ' — ' The Nora,' ' Sheer- 
ness,' etc. — ' Death of Nelson.' 

WE have studied in the preceding chapter the first phase 
of Turner's genuinely creative work. We have seen 
the artist tear himself free from the ti'ammels of the 
prosaic understanding, with its clear-cut distinctions between 
external nature and subjective thought and feeling, and plunge 
whole-heartedly into the concrete world of the poetic imagination. 
The accomplished draughtsman of the visible has developed into 
the perfervid poet of the invisible. Objective reality, as such, is 
shattered and trampled ruthlessly underfoot. 

' Woe ! woe ! 

Thou hast destroy'd 

The beautiful world 

With violent blow 

'Tis shiver'd ! 'tis shatter'd ! 

The fragments abroad by a demigod scatter'd ! 

Now we sweep 

The wrecks into nothingness ! 

Fondly we weep 

The beauty that's gone ! 

Thou, 'mongst the sons of earth. 

Lofty and mighty one, 

Build it once more ! 

In thine own bosom the lost world restore ! ' 

The distinction between percipient and object is brushed 
aside, and the external world becomes the medium and the means 


of manifestation of inward perceptions and ideas. How far the 
external world can be buUt up again in the bosom of the self- 
conscious subject depends largely upon the opportunities and 
genius of the individual. 

In pictures like the ' Kilgarran Castle,' ' Norham Castle,' and 
' The Trossachs ' — to take perhaps the three most successful works 
of the kind of art we have been studying — the mind only partially 
coalesces with its objects. Such art only deals with a limited 
range of subject-matter, and it treats its objects rather as foils to 
the contemplative mind than as having significance and worth in 
themselves. The terrors of inorganic nature are not represented 
for their own sake, but are paraded to mark the triumph of the 
moral freedom that rises superior to them. The artist is therefore 
forced to do violence to external nature, to subdue it and degrade 
it into a symbol of what is antagonistic in his own conscious 
experience. Yet by sheer force of artistic treatment all this 
hostile and negative matter is brought within the realm of art, and 
made into an object in which the self- scrutinising spirit of man 
finds itself mirrored. 

But the sublime lies only on the threshold of beauty. It 
succeeds, in so far as it does attain its effect, only by making 
extreme demands upon the acquired culture and reasoning powers 
of the spectator. The sublime cannot be adequately represented 
by any sensuous object, but the very inadequacy of these objects 
can stir up and evoke this feeUng in the properly prepared 

There are ampler possibilities of beauty in the realm of the sea 
painter. At first sight it may seem that the change is merely a 
change from one region of inorganic nature to another, from rocks, 
torrents and glaciers, to the stormy and impetuous sea. But if we 
examine the substance of Turner's marine pictures carefuUy, 
we find that they contain elements which lend themselves more 
readily to a systematic unity in sensuous form. In his mountainous 
pieces Turner found room for very little immediate human interest. 
Man and his everyday occupations are banished from the steep 
and rocky places he chooses to represent, as incompatible with 
the gloomy, awe-struck feeling he wishes to evoke. The only 
immediate link with the feelings and interests of those for whom 



he worked which these pictures contained, was the shattered 
masonry of a castle built in the recesses of the past by men long 
since dead, but whose purposes and fate still awoke echoes in 
the historical imagination of the present. In his marine subjects 
Turner entered more closely into relation with the substantive 
interests of his time. During the Napoleonic wars the sea had 
come to be recognised as the chief safeguard of the nation. The 
dangers of the sea, the courage and skill of her sailors, were 
England's only bulwarks against the invincible legions of 
Napoleon. The gathering of the French armies of invasion along 
the shores of Brittany, the flotillas of gun-boats and flat-bottomed 
boats safely moored at Boulogne and Ambleteuse, focussed the 
attention of the nation upon a pomt outside the limited and 
varying interests of the individual citizen, and united them all in 
the same community of hopes and fears. The existence and 
welfare of the nation were at stake, the need of self-sacrifice was 
felt, and the individual became animated with the common senti- 
ments of the nation. The stress of circumstance woke up what I 
may call the merely physical and material nation into a self- 
conscious spiritual unity, thinking the same thoughts and throbbing 
with the same emotions. 

At such a moment the poet's and the artist's task is made 
comparatively easy. Their individual experiences are charged 
with a universal import ; their art rises to tlie dignity of a public 
function. They have only to be true to their own impulses to 
reaUse the absolute beauty of eternal life. And it was happily at 
such a moment in the life of the English nation that Turner 
wearied of his ruined castles and terrifying mountains — of the 
picturesque in general — and devoted himself to marine painting. 

The list of Turner's exhibited works shows that he was early 
drawn to the sea and sailors. In 1796 he exhibited a drawing 
called ' Fishermen at Sea,' the next year another entitled ' Fisher- 
men coming Ashore at Sunset, previous to a Gale,' and in 1799 
there were two oil pictures, one of ' The Battle of the Nile,' and 
the other of ' Fishermen Becalmed previous to a Storm— Twilight. ' 
I have not, unfortunately, been able to see any of these works, but 
some studies and drawings in the National Gallery made about 
1796 show that Turner began his career as a marine painter under 




1 1 




















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I'EN AM) INK, WAbll, AND WHlTfc CII.\LK fN l.ltE fAitJC. AlCLT \Z 


the marked influence of Rowlandson, George Morland and De 
Loutherbourg. There is one animated little drawing with brown 
ink outlines of sailors getting some obstreperous pigs on board a 
small coasting vessel in a strong gale of wind. Apparently the 
cart has been driven into the sea beside the vessel, an impossible 
feat in such a sea ; the sea must also be too deep for the wheels of 
the cart to rest on the ground, and if the wheels touch the bottom 
there is not enough water for the two boats. But in spite of these 
minor defects the subject provides scope for a fine animated group 
of men in the cart struggling with the pigs, who have determined 
to precipitate themselves into the water rather than go where they 
are wanted. 

That Turner was not altogether satisfied with his design is 
proved by the existence of two other versions of the same 
subject. In one of these the motive of the cart in the sea has 
been abandoned. The cart is now placed in the foreground on the 
beach, and the rearing horses and struggling and shouting men are 
clearly inspired by Rowlandson's and De Loutherbourg's treatment 
of similar themes. These drawings are in pencil outline only, but 
there is also a rather elaborate water-colour of a shipwrecked 
sailor clinging to the rocks, with huge glassy-coloured waves in 
the manner of De Loutherbourg. 

Turner's unfamiliarity with the sea no doubt accounted to 
some extent for its attraction. His imagination was here free to 
disport itself untrammelled by the bonds of experience, and safe 
from the irksome yoke of the familiar. When we come to study 
Turner's first important sea-piece, the fine picture in the Bridge- 
water House collection of ' Dutch Boats in a Gale : Fishermen 
endeavouring to put their Fish on Board' — first exhibited in 1801, 
we can see how little art is bound to depend upon the individual 
artist's personal experience. Turner had painted landscapes before 
he knew the country, and buildings before he had seen them, so 
now he paints sea-pieces before he has been to sea. There is 
no evidence to show that he had ventured out of sight of land 
before 1802, and then it was only to cross the Channel from 
Dover to Calais. But before this he had exhibited not only the 
Bridgewater picture to which I have referred, but a large ' Battle 
of the Nile' (1799), Lord Iveagh's superb 'Fishermen upon a Lee 



Shore' (1802), and the almost equally fine ' Ships bearing up for 
Anchorage ' (1802), in the Petworth gallery. 

It is true that he had used to the uttermost the few opportunities 
which had fallen in his way of observing the sea from the shore, 
and that he had some little experience of ships and sailors in 
rivers and on the coast. (See, for example, the series of sketches 
of boats' crews towing men-of-war in the River Usk, in the 
' Cyfarthfa ' Sketch-Book of 1798.) What direct knowledge of this 
kind he possessed he naturally used, but there can be no doubt 
that the main body of his knowledge as well as inspiration was 
derived not at first-hand, but indirectly, at first, through the 
pictures of English painters like De Loutherbourg, and later, 
through the pictures and drawings of the Dutch sea-painters. 
The point is worth the attention of those who treat the close con- 
nection between art and nature which happens to exist just at 
present as an inherent characteristic of pictorial art, and make 
much of this supposed characteristic in opposition to the freedom 
of music. When we cease to keep our attention riveted on the 
naturalistic art of the present, we soon find indications that the 
essential forms of pictorial art are as much independent construc- 
tions of the creative mind as the forms of music. 

In the group of studies for pictures of the sea which are related 
to the Duke of Bridgewater's picture, we see Tui-ner playing 
with pictorial forms with as much freedom as a musician plays 
with his notes. The horizontal line of the sea, the heaving waves, 
the masses of light and dark in the sky, the stolid forms of the big 
ships, the instability of the smaller boats, — these are notes which 
Turner never seems wearied of evoking, and weaving into ever 
fresh combinations. The demands of mere representation count 
for almost nothing in these entrancing drawings. The artist 
draws simply because he loves his artistic symbols, loves weaving 
them into designs, and because his gift of melodic invention is 

The group of drawings to which I refer seems to have been 
made originally in a small book, solidly bound in calf. On one 
of the covers Turner has printed boldly in ink ' Studies P,' and 
' Shipping,' which means, doubtless. Studies for Pictures of 
Shipping. The paper is blue with a coarse surface, similar to 



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that commonly used by students in the French atehers, and known 
as Michallet paper. The designs were generally roughly pencilled 
in, and were then carried further in pen and ink, with bold washes 
of Indian ink. White chalk was also freely used. The book was 
in use before 1799, as it contains a number of studies for the 
painter's diploma picture of Dolbadarn Castle. These studies 
are made in coloured chalks, most of them still very effective, 
although they have wasted a good deal of their force upon the 
pages that have been pressed down over them. This is, I believe, 
one of the few occasions on which Turner has been known to work 
in pastel. Doubtless many of the shipping designs were never 
carried out, but among them there are studies for the large 
water-colour of Carnarvon Castle exhibited in 1800, and for the 
two water-colours of Pembroke Castle, one (now belonging to 
Mrs. Pitt Miller), exhibited in 1801, and the other (the glorious 
one now belonging to Mr. Ralph Brocklebank), exhibited in 

But the actual studies for the ' Bridgewater Sea-piece ' were 
made in a much larger book, a book which seems to have been 
devoted at first to the purpose of making life studies at the 
Academy classes. But it contains only about half a dozen draw- 
ings of this kind, while about sixty pages are devoted to studies of 
pictures, some historical, like the 'Deluge,' etc., but most of them 
sea-pieces. The paper is coarse blue, like the smaller book, the 
size of the leaves being 17 x 10^ inches, and most of the studies 
are continued over the two open pages. Throughout the book 
one recognises a certain sense of pride and exaltation in the mere 
size of the paper, and in the unchecked freedom with which the 
artist's hand and imagination could disport themselves. 

One of the earliest studies for the 'Bridgewater Sea-piece ' repre- 
sents simply a straight line of sea with two ships on it in the 
distance, one foreshortened, the other in profile. In the extreme 
distance is a line of white chalk suggesting a strip of sunlight on a 
distant coast. The idea is so bald and empty and so unhke the 
final result that one would not connect the study with the picture 
did it not bear Turner's inscription, ' Duke's Picture,' in the 

The next study shows that Turner's mind is occupied with the 



idea of filling up the emptiness of the middle distance and fore- 
ground. On the left we have two fishing-boats pitching to the 
right in shadow, while the two frigates ride at anchor in the dis- 
tance, very much as in the first sketch. The two groups are 
united simply by the cast shadow on the water thrown by the 
fishing-boats in the direction of the frigates (Plate xvii.). 

The next study shows the artist trying to find a more interest- 
ing way of uniting the two groups. Here the two motives are 
tied together as it were by a small rowing-boat with men in it half 
hidden in the trough of the waves. The group of fishing-boats is 
also slightly altered, their sails accentuating their common sway- 
ing motion. In this drawing the various objects are no longer 
juxtaposed in a seemingly casual or arbitrary way. A subtle bond 
of union has sprung up between them. The rowing-boat rocks 
the reverse way to that of the large group of sailing vessels. The 
two rocking motions reinforce and explain one another. The 
movement of each gains in vividness, and they both increase the 
intensity of our perception of the steadiness and weight of the boat 
riding at anchor out there on the right. In this way the sea comes 
to life in its effects, and the design is ready to be transferred to 
the canvas and for further elaboration. 

This playing with our feelings of equihbrium and movement 
constitutes one of the prime factors of Turner's enjoyment in his 
earlier sea-pieces. He is taking possession of his new realm, 
getting his sea-legs as it were. We see this plainly in the beautiful 
little picture of ' The Meeting of the Thames and Med way ' in the 
National Gallery. (This is a small version of the larger picture now 
in America. There is also another equally fine small version in the 
University Galleries, Oxford.) The strong heaving wave on which 
the buoy dances in the foreground sets the main motive of the 
picture — the play of wind and waves — clearly forward. The 
small boat with the four men in it is flung sideways and upward. 
We feel it as the light plaything of the heavy waves. In the 
middle distance there are two groups of heavier craft with sails 
set, one group, on the left, coming straight towards us, the other 
group scudding straight across the picture plane, just about to 
disappear out of the frame on the right. The dancing buoy and 
the Hght rowing-boat in the foreground make us feel at once the 


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weight and bulk of these sailing hoys. We feel them settling 
down in the mettlesome sea, gripping it tight as a rider grips his 
horse with his knees, while they fling out their sails to the wind. 
They are like living, panting, quivering animals. In the far 
distance rides a large frigate at anchor, and the firm base line of 
the horizon might stand as a symbol of the self-possession, strength 
of will, and unity of the conscious self, which delights in differences, 
while never entirely losing itself in the multifarious maze of 

In our sketch-book there are some of the undeveloped germs 
of this picture. In these sketches parts of the design have been 
firmly grasped, but the whole movement has not yet come to 
hght. In the fine drawing running across pages 90 and 91, for 
example, the action of the two scurrying hoys on the right, together 
Avith the rocking boat in the foreground, is clearly marked. But 
there is nothing to counterbalance the swift rush of these boats. 
If we look at this study with the remembrance of the final design 
in our minds we feel there is something missing. We want the 
heavy waddling hoys on the left coming towards us, with their 
hulls jammed deep in the waves ; we want something to give us a 
sense of solidity, something, as it were, to hold on to, to steady 
ourselves in the sway and rush. 

All these trial sketches, this laborious piecing together of the 
designs, suggest that Turner was not trying to realise something 
that he had actually seen. No doubt this was the case, yet we 
must not hastily conclude that he was simply making it all up out 
of his head, as the common saying runs. His smaller sketch- 
books show that he had constantly watched such scenes. The 
object of his trial sketches was therefore to find an adequately 
expressive form which would do justice to the wealth of his experi- 
ence. He was not trying simply to make an abstractly beautiful 
composition. His task was rather to knit together into conceptual 
unity his wide range of experience, and then to body this forth in 
a carefully selected and articulated sequence of sensuous signs. 

But some of the pages of the book in which the sketches 
referred to above occur, prove that the well-known picture of 
•' Calais Pier ' is in the main an attempt to realise a scene that 
Turner had actually witnessed. On pages 58 and 59 there is a 



\'igorous draAving in black and Avhite chalk inscribed ' Our landing 
at Calais — nearly swampt.' The packet boat had evidently had a 
rough crossing, and now the passengers are being landed in boats 
with considerable difficulty. In this sketch the boat seems to 
have stuck on the harbour bar, and, beyond, the packet vi^hich the 
passengers have just left is lowering its mainsail. Another sketch 
shows the small boat flung finally on the shore with the passengers 
struggling among the surf. The picture is no doubt an attempt to 
realise the scene which presented itself immediately on the arrival 
of the packet boat, before the passengers began to land. This 
was Turner's general idea, but the composition had to be invented 
and appropriate details found to sustain and reinforce the main 

This incident occurred in 1802, and we have to go back to the 
previous year to find what seem to me the materials used in the 
construction of Lord Iveagh's superb ' Fishermen upon a Lee- 
Shore in Squally Weather,' a picture that will be fresh in the 
pubhc mind, as it formed one of the chief attractions at the exhibi- 
tion of English pictures at the Franco-British Exhibition held in 
London last year (1908). Two little pocket-books, used during 
Turner's journey to the Scotch lakes, are filled with drawings of 
the heavy billows of the North Sea thundering on a lee shore. 
The first book was used on the Yorkshire coast, the other on the 
wild coast between Berwick and Edinburgh. The Yorkshhe book 
bears Turner's label, ' Guisborough Shore,' on the back. It con- 
sists of a small number of pages of coarse blue paper. These 
pages are filled with magnificent impressions of waves dashing 
against rocks, and of dark, heavy fishing-boats silhouetted against 
the foaming white sea. The ' Liber ' design of the ' Coast of 
Yorkshire near Whitby ' (R. 24) was doubtless suggested on this 

The other book, the 'Dunbar' sketch-book as Turner named 
it, consists of leaves of stout Whatman coated vdth washes of a 
murky pinkish brown. The advantage of using white paper pre- 
pared in this way is, that the artist can get his fights by simply 
using his knife to scratch away the preparation. This book con- 
tains sketches of the ruins of Roslin Castle, the Bass Rock, Tan- 
tallon and Dunbar Castles. The wild and disconsolate scenes 



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between St. Abb's Head and Dunbar seem to have deeply 
impressed Turner's imagination. As we turn over the leaves of 
this book we seem to hear ' the sombrous and heavy sound of the 
bUlows successively dashing against the rocky beach ' that Scott 
speaks of in his description of Fast Castle in the Bride of Lammer- 
moor. The artist seems too excited to draw in his old static 
fashion. The stretches of sullen sea are sketched again and again, 
the white crests of the incoming waves being dug out furiously 
with the knife. But only the large masses of light and dark are 
indicated. Here we have a stretch of cold light in the sky with 
the dark sea and clijSs looming against it, the whole vague and 
fragmentary, but irresistibly impressive. But perhaps the most 
eloquent pages in the book contain two glorious studies of storm- 
tossed waves. Wei are looking out from the shore, with the waves 
breaking at our feet. Even in his more elaborate work Turner 
has never suggested the tremendous weight and power of the sea- 
waves so vividly as in these hurried and tiny sketches. The furious 
work with the knife on both sides of the paper has reduced it 
almost to a rag ; but the rag is eloquent, and such studies as these 
help us to understand how it was that Turner could paint the sea 
so very much better than any artist either before his time or since. 

' The Shipwreck,' one of the most successful of Turner's early 
sea-pieces, was painted in 1805. The picture is doubtless a ' com- 
position ' in which Turner has endeavoured to sum up his knowledge 
of the sea, but, as was usual with him, it contains a nucleus of 
directly observed fact. These two sides of his art, tireless and the 
most searching observation, and the subsequent artistic manipula- 
lation of what he had seen and felt, are clearly displayed for vis in 
two little ragged paper-covered note-books labelled by the artist 
' Shipwreck ' and ' Shipwreck 2.' The first contains the succinct 
record of an actual shipwreck, the second the series of trial composi- 
tions which he made before the final design of the picture was fixed. 

Eight of the pages of the first book — it only contains sixteen 
pages in all — have long been exhibited among the Turner water- 
colours in the National Gallery. They are framed together, and 
numbered 535. They represent so many different views of a 
barque going to pieces on the shore. There can be no doubt of 

the veracity of these bold, masterly pen sketches ; as Mr. Ruskin 

T. S.-4 49 


says of them, ' I believe even those who have not seen a shipwreck, 
must recognise, by the instinct of awe, the truth of these records 
of a vessel's ruin' {Ruskin on Pictures, p. 221). In the margin 
of one of the drawings Turner has scribbled 'Pepper (?) bargh 
Vessel. Hemp. O. Iron bundles like Hoop. ' The scenery vaguely 
suggests the coast of Kent to me, — possibly Gravesend. 

These sketches are so impressive that one would have thought 
that Turner would have been satisfied to take any one of them as 
a basis for a picture. But his mind seemed unsatisfied until he 
had exalted actuality into something of epic grandeur. The second 
little book shows how he set to work to make his pictures 
express a clearer intention and a wider mental outlook than any 
single incident could. 

The first sketch shows us a large ship settling down at the 
bows, with a single rowing-boat in the foreground. We are far 
away from the shore. The tragedy is intensified by taking place 
on the high seas, but the presentment is evidently too bare and 
matter-of-fact for the artist. In the next sketch the ship is 
turning over towards us, though slightly to the right, so that 
we see its decks plainly, with the masts foreshortened towards 
us. Somewhat nearer to us is a welter of boats and figures, with 
a fishing-boat with sails set on the right, all placed low down in 
the trough of the sea. On page 13, the vessel is turned half over 
towards us, but to the left. The fishing-boat in the foreground 
sailing into the picture also has its mast and sails sloping violently 
to the left. This swing in the same direction of the two most 
prominent objects in the design strikes us as monotonous, and 
doubtless for this reason excited Turner's disapproval. On page 
16, the vessel is brought nearer and made a more prominent object 
in the design. It is now turned over away from us and slightly 
to the left. The welter of boats and figures is placed beyond the 
vessel, instead of in the foreground. In another sketch the ship 
lies on its side helpless on the right of the design, its masts and 
rigging in the water stretching right across the picture. Another 
of the sketches has been reproduced as Plate xxi. This is, per- 
haps, a little more fully realised than some of the others. It 
seems to have been drawn straight off in pen and ink, then the 
stormy sky and waves were indicated with an impetuous wash of 

PLA'lE XX in 














Indian ink, which was then thumbed, dabbed, and coaxed to give 
the requisite modelhng. The sweep of the waves, their vicious 
choppy spurts and explosions of spray, are given with a directness 
and simplicity of means that I believe would have excited the 
admiration of Korin himself. 

I need not continue to describe all the pages in detail. The 
point of interest is that Turner tried successively every possible 
movement in the sinking of a big ship and looked at them from 
every possible point of view. Then he finally decided that his 
second sketch was the most suggestive and striking, so he took it 
up again, and after considerable modification in the details, de- 
veloped it into the completed work. 

Between 1805 and 1809 Turner must have spent a good deal 
of his time sailing up and down the lower reaches and the mouth 
of the Thames. The contents of several sketch-books prove this. 
In one there is a view of the Dutch coast with Flushing in the 
distance, evidently drawn from the sea. But the subjects as a 
rule are nearer home. In the book labelled ' River and Margate ' 
the subjects range from the Fishmarket at Hastings to Cobham 
and Walton Bridges. These include sketches near London 
Bridge, at Purfleet, Greenwich, Gravesend, Southend, Heme Bay, 
and Margate. But these are only treated as backgrounds to the 
ships and boats. We have pages and pages of wherries and 
Thames barges bundling along with all sails set past massive ships 
of the line at anchor, all drawn as swiftly as they seem to move. 
These are almost too slight for reproduction, but the two 
animated scenes of men-of-war's boats victualling, reproduced as 
Plates XXII. and xxiii., give an excellent idea of the spirit in which 
Turner worked on these occasions. Looking out to sea we see a 
number of ships of the line riding at anchor. Round the landing- 
stages in the foreground are the ships' boats taking in stores of 
bread, hay and straw, sheep and fish. The day is fine, but there 
is evidently a wind blowing ; the sea is choppy; there is plenty of 
spray about, and the pennants stand out taut from the masts of 
the big ships in the offing. It is all drawn with a few hurried, 
nervous pencil outlines, nothing is described in detail, yet the 
whole scene is brought as vividly before us as the most elaborate 
oil-painting could bring it. 



Another little book, labelled ' Boats. Ice,' shows that Turner 
was no mere fair weather sailor. The sketches were evidently 
made during a severe winter. The book starts off with several 
lurid sunsets. On page 9 we see some boatmen on their barges, 
a church, probably Gravesend Church, in the distance. The sun 
has disappeared behind a bank of clouds. These have the word 
' grey ' scribbled over them. Over a few hurried lines of pencil 
radiating from a centre behind these clouds are the suggestive words 
' Fire and Blood.' On page 12, we have a stretch of river with a 
distant group of trees on the left looming through the fog. The 
river is strewn with fragments of ice. On the right a single boat 
is visible, its tall mast and stays standing out boldly against the 
sky. Above, the upper part of the sun's face is just appearing 
through the clouds. This slight, sensitive sketch is helped out for 
the artist — though for the imaginative spectator it hardly needs 
such help, so eloquent is it — by scribbled notes of colour ; ' Boat 
. . . yellow,' the water in the foreground, ' Greenish Black in 
Shadows. Ice white and grey.' 

On the next page we find two barges with brittle fragments of 
ice hanging round them. On page 16, there is a barge moored 
beside what seems to be a huge iceberg, with two figures on it, 
though it may only be a rocky shore distorted by snow and ice 
into its fantastic appearance. But the sketch on the next page 
looks emphatically like an iceberg. The following sketch is here 
reproduced (Plate xxiv. ), so the reader may judge for himself what 
it is. To me it looks like floating icebergs, the foremost one con- 
taining a Avrecked vessel embedded in its surface. This page was 
cut out by Mr. Ruskin and exhibited at Oxford with the title, 
'The Inscrutable.' 

Turner has summed up these experiences of his in a group of 
absolutely unrivalled sea-pieces. Pictures like Mr. F. H. Fawkes's 
' Pilot hailing a Whitstable Hoy,' Mr. G. J. Gould's ' The Nore,' 
Mr. P. A. B. Widener's ' Meeting of the Thames and Medway,' 
and Lady Wantage's ' Sheerness,' seem to me beyond all question 
the most glorious pictures of the sea ever painted. The finest 
Dutch pictures of this kind, with all their admirable qualities, do 
not seem ever to get beyond a certain prosaic outlook. This 
matter-of-fact effect is enhanced by — if it is not altogether due to it 






f ; 





03 o 

< "S 

E td 


— the ruthless display the artists make of their special knowledge 
of the construction and rigging of their vessels. I believe Turner's 
knowledge of this kind was almost as exhaustive as theirs, but 
whether as full or more limited, he made a better use of what he 
did know. His objects are never there simply for themselves. 
They are always subordinated to a genuinely imaginative concep- 
tion. His pictures, therefore, are not the work of a man with a 
professional speciality. They are real epics of the sea. From 
their own imaginative point of view their workmanship is almost 
perfect. Their style is sonorous and weighty. They are as solemn 
and majestic in conception as they are manly in feeling. They 
have something of that 'beauty which, as Milton sings, hath 
terror in it.' Together ' they move in perfect phalanx to the 
Dorian mood ' — the noblest sequence of poems ever dedicated 
to the majesty of the sea. 

When we compare such pictures as these with a subject like 
' The Death of Nelson,' in the National Gallery, — a subject dealing 
directly with a particular historical incident — we cannot but feel 
that they owe something of their loftiness and grandeur to their 
exaltation above all merely limited feelings of patriotism. I 
suppose a Frenchman could hardly be expected to look at the 
' Nelson ' with quite the same feelings as an Englishman ; or a 
Dane to regard the ' Spithead ; Boat's crew recovering an anchor ' 
— which actually represents the return of the English fleet with 
the Danish ships captured at Copenhagen — in the way this event 
was hailed in England. The feeling of patriotism is no doubt an 
admirable and useful one in real life ; but in so far as art is tied 
down to the service of a particular kind of patriotism, it is limited 
to this definite end, and is not entirely free in and for itself. And 
art Avhich is not entirely free from all finite ends cannot rise to the 
full height of its own destiny. 

Yet in the very greatest art there is no opposition to all that is 
essentially noble and heroic in patriotism. A masterpiece like 
Lady Wantage's ' Sheerness,' for example, is as full of all the 
essential virtues of patriotism as a picture like the ' Death of 
Nelson.' The difference is only in the degrees of emphasis placed 
on certain aspects of the whole conception. In the ' Sheerness ' 
the interest is concentrated on the guardship at the Nore, and all 



that is implied in this aspect of a nation's discipline, hardihood, 
watchfulness, and self-sacrifice. And on this idea of military (or 
naval) service for the Fatherland the possibility of actual struggle 
and, if need be, death at the hands of any national enemy is 
clearly involved. The ' Death of Nelson,' therefore, only makes 
explicit a single moment held in solution in the other picture. 
Hence the question is not between the value of patriotic feeling and 
a shallow, empty form of cosmopolitanism as artistic motives, but 
merely under which aspect the virtues of patriotism are to be con- 
templated. Which aspect does fullest justice to the whole con- 
ception of personal devotion and sacrifice to the commonweal? 
My own feeling is that the point of view which raises itself above 
the particular interests of one nation, and treats the hardships 
and dangers of national defence as an inevitable condition of 
human life, is more in accord with the freedom and universality 
of the highest art. The question, I repeat, is only one of degree, 
and these remarks will be entirely misunderstood if they are taken 
to imply that I should have wished that either the 'Nelson' 
or the ' Spithead ' had not been painted. In the ' Spithead,' as a 
matter of fact, the connection with the particular historical 
incident which called it into existence has long dropped out of 
siglit, whilst the 'Nelson' has always caused a certain feeling of dis- 
satisfaction even among the most ardent and exclusive of patriots. 
This vague feeling is possibly at the root of the adverse technical 
criticisms to which it has been subjected by sailors and naval 
experts. These criticisms are generally in themselves entirely 
wrongheaded and sometimes fatuous, for the picture is certainly a 
grand and impressive one, and by far the most adequate repre- 
sentation in pictorial art of an event of the greatest national 
importance. But the intuitive sense of the nation has always 
thought more highly of such a picture as ' The Fighting Tem^raire 
tugged to her last Berth,' than of the ' Death of Nelson.' In ' The 
Fighting Temeraire,' as in the earlier masterpieces to which I have 
referred, there is no touch of chauvinism or vainglory, yet it is 
generously and passionately patriotic : but it is magnanimous 
patriotism, which honours its foe and looks beyond and above the 
present momentary noise and strife. 



'SIMPLE NATURE '—1808-1813 

The works of this period an important yet generally neglected aspect of 
Turner's art — Turner's classification of ' Pastoral' as opposed to 'Elegant 
Pastoral ' — The Arcadian idj'll of the mid-eighteenth century — The first 
' Pastoral ' subjects in ' Liber ' — ' Windmill and Lock ' — The capture of the 
Danish Fleet in 1807 — Turner's visit to Portsmouth — His return journey 
— ' Hedging and Ditching ' — An attempt to define the mood of pictures 
like 'The Frosty Morning,' 'Windsor/ etc. — Distinction between mood 
and character. 

THE phase of Turner's work which we are now to consider 
seems to me one to which the critics have hardly done 
justice. The supreme beauty of two of the pictures of 
this group has certainly been recognised — I allude to the ' Trout 
Stream ' and Lady Wantage's ' Walton Bridges,' but these 
works have been treated mainly on their individual merits, instead 
of in their connection with a clearly-marked and most significant 
aspect of the artist's genius. Chronologically, this period ranges 
from about the year 1808 to 1813, and it includes, in addition to 
the two works just mentioned, the ' Windsor,' ' Abingdon,' 
' Kingston Bank,' ' Frosty INIorning,' ' Union of the Thames and 
Isis ' and ' Sandbank with Gipsies,' all in the National Gallery, as 
well as Sir Frederick Cook's ' Windmill and Lock ' and JNIr. 
Orrock's ' Walton Bridges.' These works all strike me as 
characterised by a certain mood or standpoint which possesses the 
profoundest significance for modern art, — a mood, moreover, 
which has not yet, to my knowledge, been satisfactorily analysed, 
and which Turner could never afterwards recall in aU its essential 
beauty, though he frequently made the attempt. 

1 must confess that in spite of all my efforts 1 am quite unable 
to find a term that will adequately characterise this phase of 



Turner's art. Turner's own classification of such subjects as those 
mentioned above is ' Pastoral,' as distinguished from the ' Elegant 
Pastoral.' But this description is inadequate, because it seems to 
refer simply to the objects contained in the works, while it is 
exactly the mood or emotional standpoint from which the subject- 
matter is treated that seems to me all-important. The con- 
temporary term for this kind of work, and one which Turner 
sometimes used himself, was ' Simple Nature,' and this description, 
though inadequate enough, is perhaps as good as any other we 
might hit upon. It indicated, at least, an antagonism to any 
artificial way of treatmg natural scenes, and suggested a certain 
unsophisticated plainness and directness of approach, and these 
qualities are certainly contained in the complex and subtle con- 
ception we are in search of. It is, then, as a painter of ' Simple 
Nature ' that we have now to consider our subject. 

In externals, this phase of Turner's art is occupied with scenes 
of ordinary rural life ; it deals with the country as the home and 
working-place of the peasantry. This gives us the distinction 
between the ' Pastoral ' and the ' Elegant Pastoral ' subjects in 
the ' Liber,' the elegant pastorals dealing with the country as the 
imaginative home and background of the stock figures of conven- 
tionally imaginative art. The elegant pastoral subjects are 
generally peopled with nymphs, classical shepherds and shepherd- 
esses, goddesses and peacocks, while the pastoral subjects which 
are not elegant are peopled with real labouring men and women 
and unideal-looking children. 

But the external subject-matter of a work of art tells us very 
little by itself. The important point is the universal which binds 
these objects together or organises them into an individual 
conception. We must think of our group of pictures as falling 
within the larger class of strictly pastoral subjects, but character- 
ised by a special method of treatment and conception. One way 
of approachmg this special conception will be to mark off a few 
of the pastoral subjects in the ' Liber ' which do not fall within it. 
And this is all the easier because Turner's first pastoral subject in 
the ' Liber ' is conventional and empty, and he only gi'adually 
worked himself into a conception of the full possibilities of the 
category. That is to say, he first took up this form of art in a 










PLA SE xxyi 

g i 

•S. E 





casual and external way, and then gradually took possession of it 
and mastered it. 

The first three plates in the ' Liber ' are classified as ' Pastoral,' 
' Elegant Pastoral,' and ' Marine.' When we compare the marine 
subject (the so-caUed ' FHnt Castle,' which we now know to have 
been a scene on the French coast ^) with the two pastoral subjects, 
we cannot but be struck with the disparity between the two 
classes of subjects. The marine subject is vigorous and veracious, 
the pastoral subjects unreal and conventionally poetical. This 
point of view is in keeping with the conception of the elegant 
pastoral, but ' The Bridge and Cows ' (R. 2) — the pastoral subject 
— is as gentle and pretty as a picture in an idyll of Gessner or 
Thomson. This, indeed, represents Turner's point of departure 
as a painter of rural subjects — the standpoint of the senti- 
mental, affected, and unconvincing Arcadian idyU of the middle 
of the eighteenth century. 

The ' Straw-yard,' the second pastoral subject in the ' Liber,' 
strikes me as a cross between a Gainsborough and a Teniers. 
Gainsborough's influence is noticeable in the landscape, while the 
ungainly horses, the awkward men and clumsy farm implements 
are in the spirit of Dutch realism. These hints of the plainness 
and toughness of the marine subjects suggest what Turner will do 
when he feels equally at home in rural subjects, but at present we 
have merely two incompatible points of view in arbitrary juxta- 
position. ' Pembury Mill,' the third pastoral, is rather more 
homogeneous in intention. It is a scene of cheerful industry and 
plenty, the noise of the millstone mingling with the cooing of 
pigeons, and lush leaves growing beside the water-wheel. It is 
a pretty subject, while no conscious attempts have been made to 
prettify or blink the actual facts of the case. The ' Farm-Yard 
with the Cock' (R. 17) still belongs to the eighteenth-century 
idyll. It is a pleasing combination of Gainsborough and Morland, 
or perhaps an echo of Wheatley. In the ' Juvenile Tricks ' (R. 22) " 
Turner's bent towards homely realism is clearly marked, but we 
do not get definitively away from the eighteenth century till we 
come to the ' Windmill and Lock ' (R. 27).^ Here we are in an 
entirely different world from that of Arcadian poetry. We have 

^ See Plate xxxvii. 2 Plate xxxvm. s pjate xxvii (6). 



now put away childish things, and are face to face with the big 
real world in which man earns his bread with the sweat of his 
brow ; in which men and women labour and sin, sorrow and 
repent. It is indeed the real world, the world of common per- 
ception and common experience, yet transfigured with the solemn 
glow of the truest and profoundest poetry. 

The engraving of the ' Windmill and Lock ' was published in 
June, 1811, but the picture and drawing were made some time 
before this date. In the part of the ' Liber ' published immedi- 
ately before the one which contained this plate, there was a plate 
of ' Hind Head Hill ' (R. 25), which bears the date of 1st January, 
1811. This subject was sketched in November 1807. It is 
therefore probable that the two drawings were made soon after- 
wards, let us say in 1808. 

The period of the inception of ' Hind Head Hill,' then, marks 
the commencement of the era of Turner's deeper and more solemn 
conception of the poetry of rural life. This subject itself, though 
classified in the ' Liber ' as ' mountainous,' belongs to all intents 
and purposes to the phase of art which we are now studying. 
The bare hills dotted with sheep, with the murderer's corpse 
creaking upon the distant gibbet, are quite in harmony with the 
mood of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads. In the same sketch-book 
are also the first ideas of no less than three other ' Liber ' subjects, 
all conceived in the same mood of spiritual exaltation, and all 
sketched during the same journey from Portsmouth to London. 

The events connected with this journey were of a nature 
calculated to throw Turner's mind out of its ordinary habits and 
thoughts, to carry him 'out of himself,' and to prepare him for 
seeing the familiar scenes of everyday life in a fresh light. These 
events have therefore a special interest for us in this connection. 

In May 1807 the Prince Regent of Portugal warned the 
Prince of Wales that Napoleon was on the point of invading 
England with the Portuguese and Danish fleets, and that the 
Emperor of Russia had bound himself by secret articles in the 
Treaty of Tilsit to support him in this measure. The ministry 
were informed of the plot, and Canning lost no time in dealing 
with the situation. An envoy was sent to the Crown Prince of 
Denmark at Kiel, with the demand that the Danish navy should 


be delivered over to England, to be taken care of in British ports, 
and restored at the end of the war. The demand v^^as, of course, 
indignantly refused. But the situation vv^as so serious that the 
ministry felt compelled to order the seizing of the Danish fleet, 
if it was not lent quietly. Denmark held the keys of the Baltic. 
Napoleon's troops were ready to overrun it at a moment's notice, 
and seize the fleet and all the naval stores, all that he wanted, in 
fact, for his attack on England. In securing the Danish fleet, 
the English then were simply taking it from Napoleon, and were 
merely acting for the purpose of self-preservation. By the 1st of 
September the French had occupied Stralsund. Copenhagen was 
immediatelv bombarded, and on the 8th the British entered the 
city, and the navy and arsenal were surrendered. 

How this blow affected Napoleon is shown from a passage in 
Fouche's 3Iemoirs, published in 1824. 'About that time it was,' 
says Fouche, 'that we learned the success of the attack upon 
Copenhagen by the English, which was the first derangement of 
the secret stipulations of Tilsit, by virtue of which the Danish fleet 
was to be placed at the disposal of France. Since the death of 
Paul I., I never saw Napoleon give himself up to such violent 
transports of passion. That which astounded him most in that 
vigorous enterprise was the promptitude with which the English 
ministry took their resolution.' (Quoted in Miss JNIartineau's 
History of England, 1800-1815, p. 283). At the time the mind of 
the pubhc was profoundly stirred by this event. But the victors 
had almost brought the Danish ships within sight of England 
before the news of the frustration of Napoleon's plans was made 
public. Turner must have been as excited as any one, for he set 
off immediately to Portsmouth, to see the victors sail into the 
harbour with their prizes and to celebrate the occasion in his 
own way. 

When Turner left London his sketch-books as a rule bear 
witness of the fact. In the ' Spithead ' sketch-book there is no 
record of the journey down from London. The first thirty pages 
are taken up with sketches of the movements of vessels in Ports- 
mouth harbour, on one of them being a sketch of a boat's crew 
recovering an anchor. In the following 3Iay, Turner included 
in his one-man show at his studio in Queen Anne Street 



West, an unfinished picture ' of the Danish ships which were 
seized at Copenhagen, entering Portsmouth Harbour' {Review 
of Publications of Art, No. 2, June 1, 1808, p. 167). In the 
foreground a ' packet with soldiers on board ' is mentioned, and 
' two boats toward the left hand corner of the picture, one of 
which is heaving or letting go an anchor.' The whole description, 
and these details in particular, prove beyond a doubt that this was 
the picture which, when finished, was exhibited in the following 
year (1809), at the Royal Academy, under the title of ' Spithead : 
Boat's Crew recovering an Anchor,' and which hangs now in the 
National Gallery under this name. The change of title was most 
probably due to prudential considerations, as, after the first 
revulsion of popular feeling, the ministry had to endure consider- 
able obloquy on account of this action, Napoleon's intention of 
invading the country as well as the existence of the secret articles 
of the Treaty of Tilsit being stoutly denied, and the government 
being pledged not to reveal the source of the information on which 
they had acted. 

Our immediate interest in this event is with the effect pro- 
duced on Turner's mind by the scenes which he had witnessed in 
and around Portsmouth. The sight of the united English and 
Danish fleets was one calculated to stir Turner's imagination pro- 
foundly. The artist's sensitive nature must also have been deeply 
affected by contact with the excited and jubilant populace, and 
M'ith the sailors and fighting men upon whose individual 
exertions the safety of the country depended. 

Such moments of national excitement tend inevitably to dwarf 
the petty and merely particular interests and prejudices of the 
individual. The substantive interests of the community, the 
universal forces that move men and hold them together, then pre- 
sent themselves in all their stark reality and overwhelming import- 
ance to every heart and mind. In such a mood, with a mind 
humbled and humanised. Turner set out to return to London. 

As we turn over the leaves of the ' Spithead ' sketch-book we 
can see clearly that the sights of the common round of rural life 
which greeted the artist after he had left Portsmouth behind, had 
gained a new interest and significance for him, by contrast with 
the stirring scenes he had just witnessed. He is no sooner clear 


J I 







of the town than the groups of trees and the peaceful stretch of 
fields make then- tranquillising influence felt. Several pages of 
sketches remind me forcibly of the scenery of ' The Frosty Morn- 
ing.' Then we find groups of farm hands resting from their 
labour, some carts and horses, ploughing scenes, a study of 
horses and pigs, and then the hurried scribble reproduced in Plate 
XXV., the germ from which the beautiful ' Hedging and Ditch- 
ing ' design in the ' Liber ' was developed. Then come several 
Hind Head sketches, and before the hill is out of sight, comes 
the original sketch of another ' Liber ' subject, the solemn and 
tender 'Water Mill' (R. 37). After this we stop to watch the 
blacksmith at work, and peep into some cottages, barns, etc. To 
eke out his hasty hieroglyphs Turner frequently adds a few 
explanatory words. On the margin of one sketch we read 
'Woman frying. Boy looking. Children at Tub, a girl beating 
the barrel, etc. ' ; and on another ' W.' (short for woman) ' cutting 
Turnips. Interior of a Barn. Cows eating at the Entrance, etc' 
And before we get quite to the end of the book come four 
sketches of St. Catherine's Hill, near Guildford, one of which 
went to the making of another ' Liber ' subject (R. 33), 

The two sketches here reproduced, of the ' Windmill and 
Lock' and ' Hedging and Ditching' subjects (Plates xxvii. and 
XXV.), illustrate admirably Turner's attitude towards nature at 
this period. Such sketches are nothing more nor less than memo- 
randa for the artist's own use. Taken by themselves they are all 
but meaningless. Even to the artist himself their significance, as 
memoranda of real scenes, must have been of the slightest. The 
focus or real nucleus of their meaning is rather the subjective 
feelings which the scenes and their whole context evoked in the 
artist, than the particular objects or scenes themselves. This 
sentiment, the total emotional impression, is, of course, not 
expressed in the sketches themselves, though now that the 
completed designs have told us what this is we can hardly help 
reading some of it into the sketches. But to the artist himself 
these sketches were useful as preliminary statements, as tentative 
objectifications of his meaning. The work of ' carrying out ' these 
sketches (or ' working them out ') was simply the process of the 
further specification of this meaning. And to describe this work 



as an attempt to realise or reproduce the actual scenes in nature 
which Turner had sketched, is only in a very limited sense 
correct. The point of interest is the complex of subjective 
feeling aroused on a particular occasion by a chance conjunction 
of objects and circumstances, and in the final design the artist's 
aim is to find a particular conjunction of pictorial signs which 
shall permanently objectify this emotional complex. Hence 
the actual objects and the particular form of their conjunction 
in the real scene lose all the importance which they possess as 
real objects, and become degraded, or at least subordinated, to a 
purpose which falls entirely outside their own existence. They 
are now nothing but pawns or counters in the artist's game of 
pictorial expression, and as such the artist has absolute power over 
them, altering them, and annihilating them, as best suits his 
purpose. The artist is also entirely within his rights when he 
introduces fresh elements from other and different scenes to 
enforce and make clear his meaning. That Turner used these 
privileges to the utmost in the case of both these subjects is 
evident when we compare the sketches "with the finished designs. 
These points seem to me worth insisting upon, because the real 
nature of artistic idealisation is so little understood and so generally 
misrepresented, and the opportunities of studying it genetically 
are of rare occuiTcnce. 

But the very fact that during the period of which we are now 
treating, the stress in Turner's work is nearly always upon the 
subjective sentiment, and that the objective scenes and objects are 
relegated to a position of subordination detracts very lai-gely 
fi'om the immediate interest in the sketches from nature which 
Turner made during this time. Taken by themselves these 
sketches are in the highest degree vague and incomplete. They 
are valuable to us mainly for the purposes of comparison with the 
completed designs, and as illustrations of Turner's methods of 
work. And for these purposes I think the two examples we have 
just studied are sufficient. I have not, therefore, deemed it 
advisable to illustrate this chapter with any other sketches of the 
same class. The three further illustrations I have chosen are of a 
different character. When Turner was called upon to treat 
subjects of a definite topographical character he was necessarily 

Hr.ATE xxvni 






tn DO 

'~j O 

a - 

ca q 

> 5 


< z 



restricted in the liberties he could take. In such cases his field of 
selection was confined within the possible points of view from 
which his subject could be regarded. In the two drawings of 
Whalley Bridge here reproduced (Plates xxviii. and xxix.) we see 
him searching for that aspect of the place which shall fit in or har- 
monise with the mood which was predominant in his own mind at 
this time. It is only from the point of view of such a subjective 
emotional attitude that the first drawing (Plate xxvni.) could 
have been rejected in favour of the second (Plate xxix.). As a 
representation of the actual place, the first drawing is much more 
adequate than the second. But it is evidently just this topo- 
graphical and objective adequacy which constituted the defect of 
this fine drawing from Turner's point of view. In the other 
drawing there is far less to occupy the attention. Here the 
interest is concentrated on a few simple forms. The mind is, 
therefore, thrown back on itself, and forced as it were to call up 
its own resources to amplify and fill out the painter's forms. And 
this is the mood of poetic contemplation or meditation expressed 
in the beautiful picture of this subject which Turner exhibited in 
1811, and which is now in Lady Wantage's collection. 

The third drawing to which I referred is the study for the 
picture of 'London from Greenwich Park,' now in the National 
Gallery. There is no trace of the emotional setting of the 
finished picture in the sketch (Plate xxx.). It is merely a record 
of the facts. But the artist has already grasped in his own mind 
the significance of these facts with such clearness that the bare 
facts even in this memorandum have become eloquent. 

The full scope of Turner's work at this period, then, can only be 
gathered from his completed works. And as I have said, I do 
not think this aspect of Turner's genius has so far had full justice 
done to it. I will therefore make an attempt to indicate in a 
few words what I regard as the distinctive qualities of this group 
of works ; and to simplify my task I will centre my remarks 
round two pictures, both in the National Gallery, and therefore 
easily accessible to every one, viz., ' A Frosty Morning' and the 
' Windsor,' which seem to me to typify the qualities and merits 
of the whole group. 

After what has gone before I do not think I need say much to 



combat the opinion that these pictures are simply reproductions 
of actual scenes. Their relation to the actual sights of nature is 
exactly the same as that between the two ' Liber ' designs we 
have just examined and the sketches upon which they were 
based. In the designs, and in these pictures, there is indeed a 
wealth of subtle and penetrating observation of natural forms, 
habits, and colours, but this material is never there simply for its 
own sake. These colours and forms of natural beauty are the 
elements of which the artist's language is compounded, the 
pictorial equivalent of the names of natural objects in the verse 
of a great poet. To fix one's attention on these factors in the 
whole complex structure of such works as ' A Frosty Morning ' 
and ' Windsor,' and to say that these fragments of meaning are all 
that they contain, seems to me as inexcusable as it would be to 
isolate the nouns in a poem, and to insist that we must ignore that 
play of thought and feeling around this common basis in which 
the real value of even the simplest poem consists. We can, of 
course, always stop short in our understanding of any statement, 
and the temptation is very great to stop short at some superficial 
characteristic in such a highly complex individuaUty as a work of 
modern art. In the case of the two pictures with which we arie 
now concerned, these characteristics happen to be not only super- 
ficial and obvious, but they happen also to be easily nameable, 
whereas the complete ideational and emotional structure of the 
whole work is very far from being easily named or described. Yet it 
is just this particular and special emotional and ideational whole 
which constitutes the very being of the work of art, and which 
alone gives it value. It is because modern art criticism has 
seized with such avidity upon the primitive sense-factor in 
pictorial language, and has insisted with so much energy that the 
art cannot or ought not to attempt any kind of ideational articu- 
lation, that it has failed to do justice to this phase of Turner's art. 

To call these pictures, then, imitations or reproductions of 
natural scenes is not altogether inaccurate. They are this, but at 
the same time they are so much more. The forms and colours 
of nature are there, but they are superseded and sublimated in 
exactly the way that the particular events described in Dorothy 
Wordsworth's journal are superseded and sublimated in the poems 



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which her brother founded upon these events. ' The array of act 
and circumstance, and visible form' becomes exactly what the 
poet's or artist's 'passion makes them.'^ In other words, the 
matter of sense intuition is taken up into the world of intelligence. 
This matter, which in the first place was something immediate or 
given, now loses its natural and positive attributes, loses its 
authority as fact, but gains a wider scope and ampler authority by 
being taken up into the world of mind and used as a sign. And 
here again an opportunity presents itself for shallow and wrong- 
headed criticism. Those who are under the dominion of the 
theory that art should only represent sensuous facts in their 
immediacy resent the transformation which the data of sense must 
undergo before they can take their place in the organised world of 
meaning. To them, therefore, such pictures as these are defective ; 
the colouring is not sufficiently natural, not bright enough, nor are 
the contrasts sufficiently strong. These pictures are not painted 
in 'the key of nature.' In a word, they are old-fashioned, because 
the artist has done something more in them than the theories of 
impressionism can consecrate. 

We have then to avoid two mistaken ways of regarding these 
works. We must not look upon them (1) as attempts to repro- 
duce the actual brilliancy and colour of natural lighting, nor must 
we treat them (2) as prosaic and literal imitations of actuality 
devoid of all the higher poetry of art. That these works are open 
to — nay, have almost invariably fallen victims to — these two 
opposite forms of depreciation, is a striking proof of the success 
with which they have avoided those fatal extremes in which so 
much of the art of the present lies engulfed. 

But it is not enough simply to avoid the dangers which 
modern theorising throws in the way of the interpreter. A really 
concrete and fruitful criticism will not stop short till it has made 
the attempt to grasp, however imperfectly, by thought the full 
and special significance of each work. And again, when we have 
made it clear to ourselves that 

' the array 
Of act and circumstance, and visible form, 
Is mainly to the pleasure of the mind 
What passion makes them,' — 

1 The Prelude, Bk. siii. 1. 287 sq. 
T.S.-6 g5 


when we have agreed that Turner has used the sights of nature as 
a means to express the emotions or the mood which they aroused in 
him, — when all this is granted we are still merely at the threshold 
of the works themselves. A mood, an emotion, a state of feeling, 
these are all vague and general terms. There is nothing necessarily 
admirable or beautiful in a mood or a state of feeling. Feeling 
and emotion may be pleasant or unpleasant, harmonious or jarring, 
depressing or invigorating. And if the main value and beauty of 
these pictures resides in the particular and definite mood or state 
of feeling which they induce, this mood must have distinguishable 
contents, and it is the business of art criticism to do what it can 
to define these contents. 

In Wordsworth's ' Lines, composed a few miles above Tintern 
Abbey,' he contrasts his present state of feeling towards nature 
with that of his youthful days. In the days of his thoughtless 
youth, he says, the forms and colours of the landscape had haunted 
him like a passion. He had loved them for themselves. But 
now, he says. Nature is no longer 'all in all' to him. It has 
now gained a remoter charm supphed by thought, an interest 
' unborrowed from the eye.' He now hears 

' the still, sad music of humanity. 
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power 
To chasten and subdue.' 

Before the sights of nature he now feels the presence of elevated 
thoughts, a sense of something ' more deeply interfused,' a 
sense of something discernible only with the inner eye ; a sense 
of the Divine that animates both nature and humanity, both what 
the eye sees and what the heart and mind create, — the spirit 
' whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,' the spirit 

' that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought. 
And rolls through all things.' 

It is in this mood, it seems to me, that Turner contemplates 
the scenes and incidents of rural life which he represents in these 
pictures, and it is this mood which these pictures embody. The 
' Frosty Morning ' is therefore very much more than a representa- 
tion of a country road, with a little hedging and ditching going on 





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on one side, an ordinary stage-coach in the distance, and a little 
sparkling hoar-frost on the ground. The ' Windsor ' is also much 
more than a representation of some drovers with their cattle in 
one of the meadows near Windsor Castle on a summer (or spring) 
morning. Not only are these bare facts represented, but the mood 
in which we must contemplate them is also stated. We have not 
read these pictures aright, we have not really brought them into 
contact with our own life, until we contemplate the bare external 
facts in the light of the mood which the artist has prescribed for 
them. It is, I know, commonly taken for granted that pictorial 
art is impotent to achieve this kind of determination ; that the 
artist is at the mercy of any chance mood which the spectator 
may bring to his work ; that the artist can only represent objects 
and spatial relations, and that he can lay no constraint on the 
spectator to think and feel about these objects in any particular 
way. And no doubt a large proportion of modern art productions 
actually do no more than this, and attempt no more. But these 
are merely the failures of modern art. All the great works of 
modern art — such as those of Rembrandt and Jean Francois 
Millet — not only represent objects and scenes, but lay down the 
related thoughts and feelings which they are to inspire. Yet it is 
of course always possible for the spectator to stop short at the 
bare recognition of the pictorial signs, in the same way that it is 
possible for the reader of a poem to recognise the meaning of 
a few prominent words and ignore the context in which they 
occur.^ But the point which I cannot hesitate to press home — 
because I see clearly that the whole question of the value and 
place of art in modern civilisation depends upon it — is this, that 
the work of art is nothing less than its full significance. It is 
only in so far as we master or appropriate this wealth of inner 
significance that the work of art can be said to exist for us ; we 
must not only read the words of a poem, but we must understand 
them, and in the same way we must not merely look at such 
pictures as these of Turner, but we must translate the artist's signs 
into their appropriate ideas and feelings. 

It is only when we succeed in getting clear of that shallow 

' See, for example, Jeffrey's account of the Sixth Book of the Excursion, quoted in 
Professor Raleigh's Wordsworth, pp. 8 and 9. 



materialism which clings to the letter, while it ignores the power 
behind it, that the full scope of pictorial art can dawn upon us. 
But when we once realise that the mood expressed in such pictures 
as the ' Frosty Morning ' and ' Windsor ' is an essential part — nay, 
is the very essence of the works themselves, we shall begin to 
understand how nearly related great art is to religion ; how 
insensibly the one passes into the other. In such pictures as 
these — and I do not hesitate to rank them among the truest and 
highest that Christianity has yet produced — in pictures like these 
the ordinary scenes of rural life and labour are impressed with the 
quietness and beauty of the best part of the artist's own nature, 
and fed with the lofty thoughts that only poets dare utter in 
words. Such pictures are indeed in the old monkish sense an act of 
worship. The mood they call up and sustain is a blessed mood in 
which the mystery and the weight of this unintelligible world are 
lightened. Such pictures as these are literally an imitation or 
reminiscence of the great moments of life, and possess life and 
food for future years. 

I wiU conclude this chapter by answering some objections that 
I believe are likely to be made to the interpretation I have offered 
of this group of Turner's works. These objections would be based 
on arguments drawn from the commonly received idea of Turner's 
personal character. The mood expressed in this group of pictures 
is, it might be urged, the habitual mood or way of feeling of the 
perfectly good man ; it is only in the perfectly good and religious 
life that we find this reconciliation of inner Freedom and external 
Necessity, and Turner, we have reason to suppose, was not a 
perfectly good and religious man. This objection I admit has 
force, but I think it is fully met by pointing to the distinction 
between a mood, a passing state of feeling, and a permanent habit 
of mind or settled character. It may not have been Turner's 
happiness to mature this mood of reconciliation into the master 
light of his whole life, yet the mood itself is one that few, if any, 
human hearts are entirely unfamiliar with. It is a mood that 
sits about us all in our earlier days. The feelings of love and 
reverence may well be one of the primary facts of human nature. 

It may be that Turner, if we examine the whole of his life, 


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cannot be regarded as a perfectly good and religious man, yet at 
this particular period of his life his works prove beyond all shadow 
of doubt that he was capable of feeling towards nature and man 
in the way that is habitual with the perfectly good man. As an 
artist these works of his show that at this time he was able to 
raise himself in the point of feeling to the level of a good and 
complete man. But this is a very different thing from the demand 
that the artist shall himself be at that time and for the remainder 
of his life the kind of man whose momentary state of feeling he 
represents. The actual behaviour of the artist as an individual 
has only an indirect bearing on the question of the moral worth 
of his work. What is important is, that the content of the moral 
idea shall be present in the state of feeling expressed in his work. 
He may not have laid firm hold of the good will ; he may not have 
made it a permanent part of his own life. All that is necessary 
for his immediate purpose is that he shall have grasped it in idea, 
— a much easier task, and one that constant reading of the poets 
is quite sufficient to accomplish. 

That Turner was always a great lover and reader of poetry 
is already well known. After he broke away from strictly 
topographical work, he seldom exhibited a picture without the 
accompaniment of some poetical quotation. To judge from these 
quotations Thomson's Seasons was a favourite book with him, 
and we also find Milton, Ossian, Akenside, Dr. Langhorne, and 
Mallet laid under contribution. But the clearest evidence of the 
place poetry occupied in his mind at this time is afforded by his 
sketch-books, which contain on the whole even more poetry than 
drawings. On almost every sheet we find transcriptions or 
reminiscences of verses that had caught his fancy, or attempts of 
his own to express himself in metre. These attempts, it must be 
confessed, are seldom far from failure, for the artist's command of 
words was not instinctive, like his power over pictorial signs. 
Yet the quantity of these attempts and the patient persistence 
with which he ground out indifferent verse, prove that the art of 
poetry was one that held at least as high a place in his affections 
as his own art. 

As Turner's verses were on the whole so unsuccessful, I will 
only offer the reader one example, and that a short one. It was 



wi'itten in one of his sketch-books about the year 1809. He had 
gone to Parley on the Thames, near Pangbourne, to indulge 
himself with a few days' fishing— his sole form of recreation. But 
the rain had kept him in all day, and to while away the time he 
betook himself to poetry. He begins by apostrophising the fair 
leaves of his sketch-book which ' Delusion ' tempts him to violate 
with his pen. The rain seems to have continued, for on the next 
page he begins again : — 

' Alas, another day is gone 
As useless as it was begun. 
The crimson'd streak of early morn 
Checks the sweet lark that o'er the corn 
Fluttered her wings at twilight grey ; 
Expectant eyed the moving ray, 
Twitter'd her song in saddening mood 

To ■{ , , V her clamorous callow brood 

In hope of less inclement skies. 
The hapless fisher 

No fly can tempt the finny brood 
When the wash'd bank gives up its mud. 
Beneath some tree he takes his stand 
in doubtful shelter 

Anxious to fancy every streak a ray. 

Not so the cotter's children at the door. 

Rich in content, tho' Nature made them poor, 

Standing on threshold emulous to catch 

The pendant drop from off the dripping latch. 

The daring boy — thus Briton's early race 
f To feel the heaviest drop upon his face \ 

\ Foremost, must feel the drops upon his face,/ 

Or heedless of the storm or his abode 

Launches his paper boat across the road — 

Where the deep gullies which his father's cart 

Made in their progress to the mart 

Full to the brim, deluged by the rain, 

They prove to him a channel to the main. 

Guiding his vessel down the stream 

Even the pangs of hunger vanish like a dream.' 

As poetry these lines have little to recommend them, but they 
give us a glimpse of the man himself, and they prove that he 


had something of the poet's comprehensive sympathies ; that 
he was ' a man pleased with his own passions and vohtions, and 
who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of hfe that is in 
him ; deUgliting to contemplate similar volitions and passions in 
the goings-on of the universe, and habitually impelled to create 
them where he does not find them.' 




The object of this chapter — The first 'Liber' drawings were made at 
W. F. Wells's cottage at Knockholt, Kent — 'Bridge and Cows' — 
Development of the so-called 'Flint Castle' — Mrs. Wells — View of' Basle' 
— ' Little Devil's Bridge ' and ' London from Greenwich ' — ' Martello 
Towers, Bexhill/ and ' Kirkstall Crypt ' — Scene at Isleworth — The etching 
of the ' Raglan Castle ' and ' Source of the Arveron ' plates — Suggestion 
for the better exhibition of the ' Liber ' drawings. 

THE Liber Studiorum is an important aspect of Turner's 
genius— so important that it seems to deserve a chapter 
to itself, even in so summary an investigation as the 
present. Yet from the point of view of its subject-matter, it is 
evident that the ' Liber ' does not throw into rehef any side of 
Turner's art not amply illustrated in his paintings. What light 
the sequence of ' Pastoral ' subjects throws upon the gradual 
development of his conception of realistic art, has already been 
touched upon in the previous chapter. But there remains one 
point of view from which it seems to me the ' Liber ' possesses a 
special interest for our present study. In these designs we can 
study the formal elements of Turner's art freed from the disturbing 
influence of colour. Each plate is primarily an arrangement in Mne 
and light and shade, and the requirements of what I may call melodic 
invention are considered before those of mere representation ; that 
is to say, the emphasis is always on the subjective and constructive 
side of art, as opposed to its power of reproduction of the elements 
immediately given in ordinary perception. 

Especially important from this point of view are those subjects, 

generally amongst the earlier plates, in which considerable 

alterations were made during the course of execution. An 

examination of a few of the cases in which there are important 



differences between the first preliminary drawing and the com- 
pleted engraving is certainly well within the limits of our present 
inquiry; and such comparisons are worth making for their own 
sake, as they bring out very clearly certain characteristics of 
all pictorial art, and especially of Turner's, which are not easily 
grasped when our observations are complicated by the presence of 

The first drawings executed for the work were made in October 
1806, when Turner was on a visit to Mr. Wells, at Knockholt, in 
Kent. One of Mr. Wells's daughters has told us that it was 
mainly on her father's advice that Turner decided to undertake 
the work. But he required ' much and long continued spurring ' 
before he could be induced to make a beginning. ' At last,' we 
are told, ' after he had been well goaded, one morning, half in a 
pet he said, " Zounds, Gaffer, there will be no peace with you till 
I begin — well, give me a sheet of paper there, rule the size for me, 
tell me what I shall take." ' The lady adds, ' I sat by Turner 
laughing and playing Avhilst he made the drawings,' ' and before 
he left us the first five subjects which form the first number were 
completed and arranged for publication greatly to my dear 
Father's delight.' (The letter is given in exteiiso in Mr. Rawlin- 
son's Liber Studiorum, 2nd edition, pp. xii and xiii.) 

One of the subjects executed at Knockholt was almost certainly 
the faded sepia drawing which hangs at present in the National 
Gallery, under the title of ' Bridge and Cows' (No. 504, N. G.) ; 
the engraving made from it was published (without a title) as the 
first ' Pastoral ' subject in the first part of Liber. 

This drawing is slightly faded, but the fading does not 
altogether account for its feeble and commonplace look. The 
design itself is feeble, the draughtsmanship petty, and the character 
of the figures and trees weak and amiable. These objects are not 
actually ' out of drawing ' — that is to say, incorrect from a physio- 
logical or botanical point of view, but they are sadly lacking in 
intention. They have a listless air, and seem to take very little 
interest either in themselves or in each other. They seem, indeed, 
to be mildly wondering why they are there at all. In a word, it is 
just the sort of drawing that an artist would make when external 
circumstances induced him to sit down to ' do something,' while 



no strongly-felt subject-matter within him was urgently demand- 
ing expression. 

This draAving (it is in reverse of the engraving) was traced on 
to the copper, and the etching was made from it by Turner 
himself. The etcliing is practically an accurate copy of the 
drawing: the objects represented are the same in each, and neither 
the actions nor positions of any of the figures have been altered. 
Yet in the etching there is a perceptible briskening-up of every- 
thing. It all hangs together better than in the drawing. In 
some way the whole now seems to have come to life in the artist's 
imagination. In the drawing we can see him laboriously bringing 
the parts together : in the etching he has infused the breath of life 
into them. 

The change is due entirely to the execution. The line which 
defines the contours of the chief objects has lost its listlessness. 
It is now instinct with intention. Everywhere it hurries along, 
building up the design as a whole while defining the parts. The 
compulsion of the whole makes itself felt in eveiy detail. It 
is certainly difficult to put into words the difference between 
the two versions, but I believe every one who wiU take the 
trouble to compare them carefully will be sure to feel it. In the 
two works there is an actual difference in the quality of the artist's 
stream of consciousness, and the difference makes itself felt in the 
workmanship, though, in all probability, he himself was quite 
unaware of the difference in his frame of mind, and regarded the 
etching as simply a mechanical process of transference from one 
medium to another. Yet from a psychological point of view, the 
impulsion of his mind was in each case in a contrary direction. 
In the drawing the scene as a whole was being laboriously invoked 
piecemeal, a collection of objects was being formed into a sum 
total ; in the etching the subject as a whole is a real and living 
thing, guiding the artist's hand and moulding all the details into 
kinship \vith itself. 

The whole now feels that certain of its parts require adjust- 
ment, i.e. demand to be brought into more intimate cohesion with 
the general purpose. The contrast between the rigidity of the 
dead branches of the willow on the right, and the springiness of 
the living branches nearer the foreground, calls out for clearer and 



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more emphatic statement. The dance and sweep of the foliage, 
the bending bridge, the falhng banli, require steadying by a bolder 
assertion of the straight horizontal line of the distant hills. The 
soft and rounded undulations of the tree-tops, running right 
across the upper part of the drawing, give a somewhat featureless 
though amiable character to it ; in the etching, greater pro- 
minence is given to the harsher lines of the rigid white wall of the 
distant cottage and its sloping roof, as well as to the supports and 
planks of the rustic bridge. In this way, without alteiing the 
position of a single part of the design, or introducing any new 
matter, the whole is transformed ; instead of a mere collection of 
parts, related to each other by a kind of chance or indifferent 
contiguity, we have now a definite whole, fused through and 
through into conceptual and emotional unity. The objects before 
our eyes have ceased to be merely indifferent and external facts ; 
they have now become elements or members of a richly coloured 
whole of thought and feeling. 

The careful and rather timid-looking drawing described as 
'Fhnt Castle' (Plate xxxvi.), is certainly another of the designs 
made at the cheerful Knockholt cottage. On the margin of this 
drawing the artist has scribbled some verses, which I suppose 
one of the merry party had discovered in a book or magazine,^ and 
which they were all delighted with. Probably the discoverer was 
Mrs. Wells, for the young ladies were too young to care much for 
books, and the only scrap of information we possess about their 
mother seems to suggest that she was something of a bluestocking, 
and what is now sometimes called a 'feministe.' Among the 
sketches in one of Turner's pocket-books there is the following 
jotting : — ' There is not a quality or endowment, faculty or 
ability which is not in a superior degree possest by women. — 
T^ide Mrs. Wells, Knockholt, Oct.' The poem itself is not strictly 
germane to our present study, but as there lingers about it a faint 
echo of those scenes of' fun and merriment ' which one of Turner's 
young playmates recalled in after years, I cannot deny myself the 
pleasure of transcribing it. 

' A Row of Poplars in disgrace 
Because they would not stop their pace 

1 It is, of course, possible that the verses were composed by Turner himself. 



Or grew unnecessarily tall^ 

Their Master came and topped them all. 

Some neighbourlj' poplai's stood hard by 
Beheld their growth with jealous eye. 
Now saw — exulting — cried 
" How near is pride to earth allied." 

" Friends/' said the poplars in disgrace, 
" You see the fault of making haste, 
Ambition's greatness caused our woe. 
Ambition shun, mind how you grow. 
For while you run you are bare below." ' 

The drawing, like the poem, is not a remarkable one. As a 
design it differs little from the average work of accomplished 
landscape draughtsmen like Westall, Arnald, Daniell, etc. But 
from a comparative point of view it is of singular interest, as 
the differences between this preliminary drawing and the 
published engraving are greater than those in any other Liber 
subject. It starts as a rather jejune and drawing-masterlike 
composition, and comes out finally as one of the most vigorous 
and impressive marine designs in the whole series. 

The etching was made by Turner himself. As the spacing and 
arrangement of the etching differ considerably from those of the 
drawing, it is most likely that an intermediate study was made. 
The changes, however, might very well have been made on the 
tracing-paper used to transfer the original design to the copper, 
and this would naturally have been destroyed as soon as it had 
been used. When the design had been drawn on the copper and 
bitten in, a few proofs were taken of the etching, and over one of 
these Turner set to work again Avith washes of sepia to guide 
Charles Turner, the engraver, who was to mezzotint the plate. 
This second design is now in the National Gallery (No. 522) and 
has been reproduced here as Plate xxxvii. 

Of course we cannot hope to grasp the whole difference that 
has taken place in this second version of the design. But here are 
two drawings made by the same hand, within a short space of time 
of each other, of the same size and the same subject, yet one is 
obviously a work of genius, and the other is as tame and lifeless as 
its companion is vivid, energetic, and full-blooded. The com- 


parison is worth making, not, indeed, that there is the slightest 
hope that any of us may learn from it how to work such miracles, 
but because it will help to impress upon us the importance of the 
form or 'style' of a work of art, as opposed to the objects it 
represents, — the importance of ' mere technique ' ; it will also give 
us some insight into the real nature of artistic expression, — will 
show us how far removed the whole process is from that pious and 
passive reproduction of what is ' given ' in sense-perception which 
plays such a large and dangerous part in current practice. Let us 
see therefore what we can discover. 

In the first place it is evident that in the second version of the 
subject the design has been what artists call ' pulled together.' 
The foreground boat on the left (it is of course on the right in the 
plate) has been made, if not actually bigger, yet more important as 
a mass, by the addition of the sails of a second boat immediately 
behind it. The apparent height of the boat has been increased 
by dropping the height of the man standing in the cart in the 
water beside it, and by making the horses, carts and men i-elatively 
smaller. The castle in the distance has been shifted nearer to 
the boat, the height of the two masts of the boat in the middle 
distance which abut on to the castle have been reduced, so that the 
masts and sails of its neighbour on the right seem higher and 
bigger. More has been made of the men, boats, etc., at the foot 
of the low hills which appear on the right of the drawing, and the 
foreground group of men and horses has been shoved nearer to 
the figure of the man just entering the water, and, to make the 
connection firmer, the cask and grappling irons on the ground 
have been carefully added. 

But it is useless merely cataloguing these changes, if we cannot 
discover the reasons for them. Is all this shuffling and rearrange- 
ment for the sake of balance and visual harmony ? No doubt to 
some extent it is. But notice in the remodelled design the effect 
of that firm straight line of the distant sea in the centre, and the 
way the distant castle rises out of it. That is the nerve of the 
whole design. See how all the other lines and shapes fret the eye 
with their sharp and jagged forms, and yet lead it inevitably back 
to that one untroubled space. All this artfully calculated playing 
with hghts and shadows, this complicated conspiracy of lines and 



forms, is assuredly something more than an aimless trifling with 
appearances. In that untroubled stretch of water we cannot but 
feel the steady, never-resting, inexorable march of the real powers 
of nature. It brings the whole mighty background of human life 
into the drawing ; and this real spiritual presence sets the daily 
toil and hardship of everyday life in a new light, solemnising it, 
dwarfing it, yet not crushing it. It is as though we had heard the 
rustle of the wings of eternity in the passing moment. To do 
this, to produce this effect unerringly and with logical certainty 
upon every normally constituted Englishman who looks carefully 
at the drawing, cannot exactly be the chance result of a diUgent 
shuffling and reshuffling of mere shapes and shadows. There is 
something of divinity in it. The shapes and shadows have mean- 
ing, and this timeless and spaceless meaning is the life-blood that 
animates and transfigures these bald signs and symbols. If art 
deals only with appearances, Ave must remember that appearance 
is also a form of reality, and that form and content can be so 
closely interwoven that the distinctions of our meddling under- 
standing may become idle and misleading. 

It is only from some such point of view as this that we can 
hope to grasp the full importance of what clever people call ' mere 
technique. ' 

Let us turn now to the ' Basle ' design. Although this 
engraving was published in the first part of Libe?' I am inclined to 
doubt whether the preliminary drawing was made in the Wells's 
cottage. This design is based upon a sketch made at Basle in 
1802, and it is hardly likely that Turner would have had this 
sketch-book with him when lie went to spend a few days with his 
friends in Kent. INIoreover, the first sepia drawing is not with the 
others in the National Gallery. INIr. Rawlinson believes that it 
passed into the hands of an American collector ' many years ago ' 
{Liber Studiorum, p. 19). But we have Turner's etching of the 
subject, and if we compare this with the drawing made fi-om nature, 
which certainly formed the ground-work of the subject, we see 
clearly what a great difference there really is between two pro- 
cesses which modern uncritical thought persistently confounds — 
between the process of ' drawing what you see ' and ' copying nature 
faithfully,' and the process of artistic construction and invention. 


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Generally, with the really creative artists the two processes go on 
simultaneously or are fused into one, but here for once we find 
them separated. The pencil drawing was made as a simple record 
of facts ; the etching was made some five or six years later, and it 
is curious to see what liberties Turner felt it was necessary and 
justifiable to take with his original record, before his notion of the 
requirements of a work of art could be satisfied. 

In the drawing from nature the width of the river seems to 
dwarf the height of the buildings ; in the engraving Turner seems 
to have felt that the height of the buildings ought to form the 
keynote of the whole design. First, therefore, the two towers ot 
the Cathedral are carried well up above the house by the bridge, 
the gable of this building being reduced in size, so that it shall not 
compete in importance with the Cathedral towers. In the draw- 
ing, the buildings recede gradually and gently from the bridge, 
while in the etching, they are pushed into square step-shaped 
masses, thus emphasising the idea of weight and height. These 
impressions are further strengthened by deliberately making the 
supports of the bridge smaller and more fragile than they were in 
the drawing ; in the engraving the straddling supports of the 
slender wooden bridge give it an air of weakness which makes the 
buildings at its side seem all the more firmly set by contrast. 

These are only a few of the more obvious points of difference, 
but if the comparison were pursued further, we should find that 
every sweep of line and silhouette of the original material has been 
reconsidered and recast before it was allowed to form part of the 
new construction. I will not pretend that I regard the result 
obtained in this case as one of the great achievements of the 
series, but our observations are useful, I think, as showing the 
habitual thoroughness and earnestness which Turner brought 
to all his work. His attitude towards the matter in hand is 
always active and creative. His alterations are not always for 
the better — indeed, it is open to argument whether some of the 
changes made in this Basle subject were quite advantageous, 
but the fact remains that whatever he took up he threw himself 
heart and soul into, that he felt bound to recreate it from 
within, and that a mere cold and passive reproduction of the given 
would have seemed to him a cowardly shrinking from his artistic 



mission. He feels that he is responsible for the effect the shapes 
and arrangement of his subject make upon the spectator's imagi- 
nation, and that to attempt to apologise for a tame and uninterest- 
ing subject by saying, ' It was so,'- — ' It is quite true,' — would 
have seemed to him an unworthy evasion of his work. 

How incapable Turner Avas of copying even one of his own 
drawings accurately is clearly shown by the etching of the ' Little 
Devil's Bridge ' (R. 19). When we compare this with the original 
drawing (No. 476, N. G.) we find that almost every form in the 
design has been recast, not always to its individual advantage 
from the point of view of realisation, but with an invaiiable gain 
in the direction of greater general cohesion. Note, for example, 
how the straight tree trunk nearest the bridge in the drawing gets 
bent slightly to the left, just to make you feel the toughness and 
obstinacy of the tree itself. The fir-trees on the left, too, are 
more realistic in the drawing, but they are more forcible and 
dramatic in the engraving. 

As we have been able to reproduce Turner's original pencil 
study from nature for the ' London from Greenwich ' plate, the 
reader will be able to make his own comparison with the pub- 
lished design. The preliminaiy sepia drawing for the engraving 
(No. 493, N. G.) forms an intermediate step between the two, a 
stage, as it were, in the process by which Turner's mind took com- 
plete possession of the subject. In the sepia drawing, the artist 
has not yet fully realised the exact role the main building has to 
play in the whole arrangement. When we turn to the engraving 
we find that the whole character of the mass formed by the 
hospital has been changed. In the drawing it forms a straggling 
mass, somewhat like a chance medley of wharves and warehouses, 
in the engraving this mass has been patted together into a solid 
and definite structure. The distant parts of the building have 
been raised, and they now tell as a rigid horizontal line. The 
gain to the hospital in dignity and in individuality is extraordi- 
nary, and its stiff straight lines are exactly what was wanted to 
throw emphasis on the subtlety and delicacy of the slow sweep of 
the distant river. 

The drawing for the ' Martello Towers, Bexhill,' plate is a very 
tame affak, and the finished plate is only saved from comparative 


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failure by its fine sky. Yet it is worth comparing the two to 
trace out the subtle differences which spring up under Turner's 
hand in the etching. All the objects are forced into shapes that 
act more powerfully on the imagination, everywhere the tendency 
of the line is towards emphasis and distinctness. 

In the ' Kirkstall Crypt ' (R. 39), the design is also recast in 
the etching. The group of cows is altered, the foreground pillar 
is made thinner, the space between the two columns in the centre 
is widened out, and the aperture in the wall above the cows on 
the left is made light, instead of dark. These changes are all for 
the better. A careful study of these seemingly trivial alterations 
is valuable as an instance of the subtleties of design upon which 
all really fine art depends. 

As these remarks indicate, I am in agreement with the general 
opinion that the engravings represent Turner's intentions more 
fully than his preliminary drawings. But though this is generally 
the case, there are exceptions, and the most notable is, I think, 
that of the plate sometimes known as ' Twickenham — Pope's 
Villa,' and sometimes as ' Garrick's Temple and Hampton Court,' 
but which really represents a scene at Isleworth. In this case 
the drawing (Plate xl.) is much finer than the plate, although 
Turner etched the subject himself. But somehow the spacing of the 
whole is much less fehcitous in the engraving than in the drawing. 
The rendering of the trees, too, is more conventional, but this is a 
characteristic of nearly all the plates, and is due to the difficulties 
of the medium, it being impossible to get the same subtlety of 
tone and deHcacy of form in etching and mezzotint that can be 
got with a pen and wash on paper. 

This question of the comparative conventionality of the foliage 
in the engravings induces me to say a few words about one of the 
loveliest renderings of woodland scenery in the whole series — the 
so-called ' Raglan Castle ' (R. 58).^ This is one of the plates that 
Turner mezzotinted himself, yet because the etched lines are not so 
free and supple as those of the preliminary drawing (No. 865, N.G.), 
it has been assumed that Turner left the etching to be done by 
one of his engravers, probably Dawe. This assumption is one 
that I cannot accept. The lettering on the plate, ' Drawn and 

1 Plate xxxrx. 
T. S.-6 81 


Engraved by J. M. W. Turner, etc.,' points to the conclusion that 
Turner was responsible both for the etching and the mezzotinting. 
And when we compare the etching with the drawing, a number 
of slight but successful differences emerge, which no engraver would 
either have attempted to make or could have made if he had 
desired to do so. 

' The Source of the Arveron ' (R. 60), another of the plates 
'drawn and engraved' by Turner, has also had its etching con- 
demned and attributed to Dawe. If the plate is really so fine as 
all the critics of this kind insist, it is curious that the etching can 
be so poor as they say and yet not affect the excellence of the 
whole. This is inconsistent with the proper appreciation of the 
important role the etched lines play in all these mezzotints. That 
Turner regarded the etching as far more important than the 
scraping is shown by the simple fact that he undertook (nomin- 
ally at least) to do it all himself, but he had no hesitation in 
handing the scraping over to the engravers. 

These general considerations are further strengthened when we 
compare the finished plate (I am speaking only of the etching in 
the published states, and not of the rare ' first state ' of the etching 
in the late Mr. J. E. Taylor's collection) with the preliminary 
study made for it, now in the National Gallery (No. 879). The 
size and proportions of the plate differ from those of the drawing, 
so the etching could not have been traced from it, while the 
etching nowhere follows the drawing with the accuracy one 
would expect if it were merely an engraver's copy. There is no 
authority in this drawing for the shapes given to the crests of the 
distant mountains in the centre, nor for the shapes of the upper 
portions of the nearer mountains on the left. The lower parts 
of the design are also modified from the forms in the drawing in 
exactly the way Turner habitually recast all the drawings he 
etched. It is also hard to suppose that Dawe or anybody but 
Turner could have recast the vague shapes of the disappearing 
ridge of the glacier on the left in the masterly way this has been 
done in the etching, or that anybody but Turner could have 
invented, on the strength of the loose indications in the drawing, 
the masterly lines that give definition to the stretch of valley 
against which the ice of the glacier is relieved. The shapes of the 


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first two upright pines near the centre have also been recast by 
the mind and hand of the master, not copied by another hand 
from the indications given in the drawing. Alterations have also 
been introduced in the character of the stems and their branches 
which a professional engraver would not dare to make in an 
ostensible copy ; the same remark applies also to the tops of the 
pines on the right. For these reasons, I think, those critics are 
mistaken who deny that the workmanship of the whole plate is 
Turner's. And the mistake has arisen to a large extent, I feel 
incUned to add, through attaching too much importance to 
a priori notions of technical mastery. As the late Mr. Arthur 
Strong very justly said, we are inclined to start with an idea that 
masters are always masterly and classical, and we often end by 
finding that they have left nothing behind them quite worthy of 
our preconceived ideas of what they ought to have done. 

These are a few of the points suggested by a comparison of 
the preliminary designs for the Liber plates with the finished 
engravings. But to get any good out of it every student must 
take the trouble to make these comparisons for himself. Should 
my remarks succeed in inducing even a few adventurous spirits to 
make such an experiment, I shall feel satisfied that I have done 
something towards spreading an intelligent interest in the mar- 
vellous process of artistic creation. Perhaps, too, some day in the 
future, the authorities of the National Gallery may see their way 
towards the display of these drawings so that such a process of 
intelligent study may be performed without the inconvenience 
which the present arrangement entails. It is probably not neces- 
sary to have the whole series of drawings on exhibition at the 
same time, but if those that are exhibited could be accompanied 
by the finished engravings, and, where possible, by one or two 
proofs of the unfinished states, I believe the gain to the public 
would be considerable. 





A survey of the ground we have covered — The training of Turner's 
sympathies by the poets — The limits of artistic beauty — and of a 
merely ' musical ' education — Turner unlike Wordsworth — the predomin- 
antly sensuous bent of his genius — The parting of the ways — The de- 
pendence of art upon society — Turner 'the fashion' — The influence of 
the Academy — The Italian visit in 1819 — Turner's Italian sketches — Their 
beauty and uselessness — The Naturalistic fallacy — Turner's work for the 
engravers — The Southern Coast series — ' Watchet ' and ' Boscastle ' — 
Whitaker's History of RichmoJidshire — 'Hornby Castle' and 'Heysham' — 
Scott's Provincial Antiquities — ' Edinburgh, from the Calton Hill ' — 
' Rochester,' in the Rivers of England series — England and Wales — 
' Bolton Abbey ' and ' Colchester ' — ' Stamford ' — ' Tynemouth.' 

WE have now followed the development of Turner's mind 
from boyhood to youth and well into manhood. We 
have watched the architectural and topographical 
draughtsman develop into an artist under the guidance of his 
admiration for Wilson. Then the mind of the painter of the 
sublime, of the picturesque in general, struck its unseen roots 
deeper into the interests and sympathies of the people amongst 
whom he lived. In the hour of national danger his heart beat 
high with courage and determination. His pictures of the sea are 
like war songs ; they strike the Dorian note, they represent the 
tone of mind of a brave man who faces wounds and death and all 
contingencies with unflinching endurance. Then the mind of the 
laureate of a nation in arms takes a still wider sweep. It embraces 
humanity and animate and inanimate nature in one glance, and 
finds the soul of good in aU things. The Dorian harmonies give 
place to the Phrygian. 

In all this Turner's attitude seems entirely passive or receptive. 

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His amazingly rapid growth seems to be merely an effortless 
assimilation of the moral atmosphere of his time. All that was 
fairest and of good repute in the common spiritual heritage of the 
people seems to have passed insensibly into his thoughts and 
feelings. His art is a social or national phenomenon, so imper- 
sonal (or superpersonal) that it is difficult to point to traces of the 
mere individual in his work. The individual is lost in his universal 
function. The man himself is nothing but the voice or thought 
of what Hume has called ' a man in general. ' Yet his work is as 
far removed as any work can be from the vagueness and coldness 
of the abstract universal. Behind every touch of his hand and 
every thought or idea in his mind beats the pulse of a fuU-blooded 
and passionate personality. Only, by some miracle, this man 
happens to be free from the local prejudices and limitations that 
deflect the judgment and sympathies of most men from the one 
true standard. 

This education of Turner's sympathies and feelings was the 
work, we have seen reasons for concluding, of the poets and artists 
whom he loved and admired. In the light and warmth of their 
ideal creations his own high instincts were quickened into hfe and 
activity. Under their influence he had entered into the common 
spiritual world, and they had given the direction to his impulses 
and ideas regarding things human and divine. But education 
must be a lifelong process, and there comes a time in the growth 
of each individual when the need of something more clear-cut and 
permanent than his own impulses and desires, however wholesome 
they may be, declares itself. As Plato pointed out long ago, to 
secure the happiest results of the best ' musical ' education, some- 
thing more than a merely ' musical ' education is needed. We 
have now reached that period in Turner's life when the lover of 
beautiful sights and thoughts and feehngs must make a determined 
effort to unify these manifold beauties by an explicit principle, to 
exchange opinion for knowledge, if he is to preserve the advantages 
he has already won. In life there is no standing still, no resting 
upon our gains. We must go forward to higher victories, or find 
our arms tarnish and our gains dissipate themselves. But it may 
well be doubted whether art is capable of reaching a higher point 
of beauty than that which Turner had already reached. Forced 



to its extreme limits beauty insensibly passes into something 
which is at once more and less than beauty. Such pictures as 
the ' Frosty Morning,' ' Windsor,' and ' The Trout Stream ' are, 
perhaps, the most beautiful that art is capable of producing. And 
the example of Wordsworth, who did strive upward to ' an 
intelligence which has greatness and the vision of all time and of 
all being,' is not on all points reassuring. His poetry, simply as 
poetry, did suffer from his philosophic studies. There may be 
something in the very nature of the human soul which sets bounds 
to the creation or expression of beauty. 

But Turner was not like Wordsworth. He was for good and 
ill essentially and solely an artist. The play of shapes and colours 
was probably dearer to him than food or raiment. Having by 
sheer good fortune carried his art to its highest attainable pitch of 
beauty before he had reached his fortieth year, he was placed in 
an embarrassing position. The dialectical movement of beauty 
would now carry him outside his art, into regions where the 
individual man might reap rich gains, but where the artist could 
reap only sorrow and disappointment. The artist in Turner was 
stronger than the man. He loved the sensuous medium of art 
more than the spiritual beauty into which the current of traditional 
wisdom had carried him. The remainder of his life is therefore 
dedicated to the passionate and audacious development of the 
material beauties of his art. 

We have now to trace in his works the gradual encroachments 
of the purely sensuous side of his art. For a time all seems well, 
perhaps more than well, for the gain in aU the lower elements of 
his art is very striking. During the next twenty years his works 
gain constantly in the sensuous attractiveness of colour and in the 
formal beauties of rhythm and design. The loss of beauty is com- 
pensated by deep draughts of pleasantness. Yet amid the feverish 
intoxication of sensuous beauty a wild unrest and despair make 
themselves increasingly felt. The man has sacrificed himself to 
his art, and the starved human soul turns in bitterness from the 
ardently desired rewards of the most brilliantly triumphant artistic 
career that modern times have witnessed. 

It is usual in treating mainly of Turner's oil paintings to fix 
upon the year 1815 as the great turning-point in his career. After 




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1815 there is a marked change in the aims and character of 
Turner's art, and it is convenient to date this change from the year 
that saw the end of the Napoleonic wars, and inaugurated a new 
era in the social and political condition of this country. From this 
date, too, the conditions of artistic production changed. The rapid 
development of industrial concerns brought a new class of patrons 
upon the scene. Before 1815, Turner's patrons had been mainly 
the landed aristocracy ; after 1815, his chief patrons were the 
successful merchants of the great towns. From that time the men 
of commerce and the manufacturers ousted the aristocracy from 
the leading position which they had held in the councils of the 
country. With the change of men a change took place in the 
ideals, manners and taste of the country ; and Turner, with his 
extraordinary sensibility, his ready powers of intuition and rapid 
assimilation, seemed bound to reflect the change in his work. 

Yet if we look closer into Turner's career, we find that 1815 
was rather the year that saw the brilliant public inauguration of 
the new era, than the actual beginning of the change. The ' Cross- 
ing the Brook,' exhibited in 1815, is often regarded as the impres- 
sive close of Turner's early manner, yet this beautiful picture already 
bears the impress of that folie des grandeurs to which we owe 
most of the excesses of the new manner. The ' Frosty Morning ' 
of 1813 is really the last work in which the inspiration rings true 
throughout, in which the form and content are absolutely indis- 
soluble. ' Dido and ^neas,' the only picture exhibited in 1814, is 
a frigid pseudo-classical pomposity, the due development of the 
strain of baser metal in Turner's genius, which had already betrayed 
itself in the 'Macon ' of 1803, the ' Narcissus and Echo ' of 1804, 
and the ' Schaffhausen ' of 1806. In glancing rapidly over Turner's 
career we have been able to ignore these works ; in the rush and 
splendour of his general development such pictures fall into insig- 
nificance, as casual indications that a busy professional man's 
industry may outrun his inspiration. 

After 1813 it is impossible to ignore this side of Turner's 
production. It was just this regrettable side of his work that 
appealed most strongly to the middle-class public for whom he had 
now to cater. 'Dido Building Carthage' (1815) is a picture 
exactly to the taste of the admirers of the first instalment of 



Childe Harold, The Bi'ide of Abydos, The Corsair, and Lara. 
It has the historical remoteness, the vague and empty grandeur, 
the mysterious dreaminess, the warm, voluptuous atmosphere and 
intoxicating lyrical movement of the contemporary phase of 
Romantic poetry. In ' The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire ' 
(1817), 'The Field of Waterloo " (1818), ' Richmond Hill, on the 
Prince Regent's Birthday' (1819) and 'Rome from the Vatican' 
(1820), we recognise the contemporary and fellow-worker of Byron, 
Moore, Southey, Chateaubriand and Lamartine. In 1822 Turner's 
only picture at the Royal Academy was entitled ' What you Will ' ! 
— an ominous but significant title. It seems to put into words 
the ruling motive of this new phase of his art ; to show that 
Turner is fully conscious that he is trimming his barque to catch 
the breath of popular applause. 'The Bay of Baiae' (1823), the 
two ' Mortlakes' (1826-27), 'Dido directing the Equipment of the 
Fleet' (1828) and 'Ulysses' (1829) indicate clearly the predominant 
bent of the artist's mind towards the grosser pleasures of his art. 

These works brought and kept Turner prominently before the 
pubUc eye. They made him the pride and glory of the Royal 
Academy, and put him on a level of celebrity with Sir Thomas 
LaAvrence. They made him, in short, in Sir Walter Scott's 
words, ' the fashion,' yet it is these works that Turner's admirers 
of the present day regard with only moderate enthusiasm. 

Compared with the work of the previous decade, such pictures 
cannot but strike us as unworthy of the artist's genius. Yet we 
have a tendency nowadays, I think, to overrate the independence 
of the artist. The modern artist, in so far as he is dependent 
upon the support of the society in which he works, is not an 
entirely free agent. The society that applauded them and for 
whose pleasure they were produced must therefore accept perhaps 
the main responsibility for the middle-class ideals stamped upon 
these pictures. In tracing the reaction of society upon art and 
art upon society, it is an extremely difficult matter to decide 
which factor is the more powerful, but I am inclined to think it is 
not art. But however this may be, it is certainly the duty of the 
individual to fortify himself as best he can against the contagion 
to which he is exposed. And it must be confessed that Turner 
was but ill-proA^ded within himself with the means to resist the 


deadening influences of the atmosphere of bad taste into which he 
was now launched. It is true that Turner was not exactly what 
is called a ' society-man,' and he might therefore have more easily 
escaped the contagion of those drawing-room ideals to which men 
like Tom Moore succumbed. But Turner was a member of the 
Royal Academy. It was the recognised organisation of his 
profession, and he valued highly the honours it had to confer. 
His lack of general education made him an easy victim to the 
pretensions of officialism ; like all uneducated people, he had a 
ridiculous reverence for the trappings and mummery of the learned 
world, for degrees, diplomas, titles. He was inordinately proud 
of the right to write ' R.A,,' 'P.P.,' after his name, and to alter 
these letters to P.R.A. was the height of his ambition. Under 
these circumstances he could not but identify himself with the 
immediate practical aims of the Royal Academy. Now this ill- 
starred institution is so unwisely and so unfortunately constituted, 
that its very existence, and all its powers of activity as a profes- 
sional benevolent society, are made to depend almost entirely 
upon its popularity as an exhibition society. The Academy throve 
then as it thrives now, in proportion as it succeeds in catering for 
the taste of the fashionable and moneyed public ; it could only 
lose ground if it made the slightest attempts to guide or educate 
the public sense of beauty. In this way it had become in 
Turner's time nothing more nor less than an organisation for 
stamping the ideals of the drawing-room upon English art. 

In 1819 Turner made his first visit to Italy, the material for 
the pseudo-classical pictures painted before this having been 
derived from other artists' pictures and engravings. It is curious 
that he should have waited till his forty-fifth year before making 
this journey. The Continent, it is true, had to a great extent been 
closed to English travellers since the outbreak of the French 
Revolution; but in spite of politicaland other difficulties Turner 
had managed to see a good deal of France, Belgium, Savoy and 
Switzerland, and he had been down the Rhine. If he had been 
equally keen to see Italy he could certainly have gone there also, 
especially as Italy was more generally accessible to an Englishman 
than any of the other countries he had visited. This curious 
shrinking from Italy may very likely have been due to the prompt- 



ings of his own nature. When we examine his art as a whole we 
clearly see that he found more delight in the wildness, irregularity 
and caprice of Switzerland and the Rhine valleys than in the 
more regular scenery of Italy. Even Mr. Ruskin admits that 
Turner got no good from Itahan scenery ; Naples, Rome and 
Florence only put him out and bewildered him ; Venice is the 
only Italian city that lent itself at all gracefully to his genius, and 
Venice is the most northern in character of all the Italian cities. 

But the requirements of his patrons and the peculiar Academic 
misunderstanding of the principles of landscape art conspired to 
send Turner to Italy. There the scenery is more beautiful in 
itself and richer in historical associations than elsewhere in 
Europe, therefore it is the duty of the ambitious landscape 
painter who happens to have had the misfortune to be born 
somewhere out of Italy to stop painting the mere scenes of his 
own country as soon as possible, and to set out at once for such 
spots as Tivoli, Narni and Lago INIaggiore, the spots approved, 
stamped and consecrated by generations of the prosperous 
travellers of all the chief countries of Europe. The theoretical 
error at the root of this dangerous prejudice is the confusion of 
the materially pretty, agreeable, and pleasant, with artistic beauty, 
which is something essentially different from any of these things. 
But this confusion of the pleasant and the beautiful was a 
doctrine which the Academy of Turner's time was bent on 
inculcating by its teaching and exeraphfying in its practice. 

It happened that Sir Thomas Lawrence, one of the most 
brilliant exponents of the gospel of the pretty and pleasant, was 
spending the summer of 1819 in Rome. In the intervals of his 
labours and relaxations with the great and beautiful of society, he 
found time to notice the grandeur and beauties of the scenery 
around him. During this time ' his letters to England were full 
of entreaties addressed to their common friends to urge upon 
Turner the importance of visiting Rome while " his genius was in 
the flower." "It is injustice to his fame and his country," he 
writes on another occasion, " to let the finest period of his genius 
pass away . . . without visiting these scenes."'^ Whether these 

' Bell, Article on 'Turner and his Engravers/ in The Genius of Turner (Studio Extra), 
pp. 142-143. 




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appeals had any special weight with Turner we do not know, but he 
set out for Italy within a month or two of the writing of these letters. 

He went from Calais to Paris, followed the usual coach -route 
to Turin, explored the Lakes of Corao, Lugano and Maggiore, 
and reached Venice by way of Milan, Brescia and Desenzano. 
He must have spent some time at Venice to judge from the 
number of drawings made there, then went to Bologna, Cesena 
and Rimini, and continued along the coast of the Adriatic to 
Ancona. At Ancona he turned inland to Loreto and, following 
the high post road through Recanati and Macerata, entered the 
Via Flaminia at Foligno, and passing through Narni and Orticoli 
entered Rome by the Porta del Popolo, probably sometime in 
October. From Rome he explored Frascati, Tivoli and Albano, 
and made a tour to Naples, Baiae, Pozzuoli, Pompeii, Amalfi, 
Sorrento and Herculaneum. He was back in Rome by the 
2nd December, then visited Florence, and, recrossing the Alps on 
the 24th January 1820, returned through Piedmont and France. 
On the 12th February we find him dining at Grosvenor Place, 
London, with his friends the Fawkeses. 

To judge from the number of sketch-books filled on this 
journey Turner must have had the pencil in his hands practically 
the whole time he was away. Before starting he had ' got up ' 
the subject carefully from books and engravings, and he knew 
exactly what buildings, antiquities and views he ought to look for 
at each place he went to. In this way he lost no time mooning 
about, like a modern artist, looking for unexpected beauties. He 
just went straight from one guide-book point of interest to 
another, sketched each methodically from every possible point of 
view and hurried on to the next. The sketch-books he used were 
generally about 7^ by 4J inches in size, composed of ordinary 
white paper. His favourite medium was a hard-pointed pencil. 
His sketches are always made with a view to information, never 
for effect. In this way about a dozen books were filled, each of 
about a hundred pages, and most are drawn on on both sides of the 
pages. Our reproductions of the sketches of the Grand Canal, 
the Piazzetta at Venice, and Trajan's Column (Plates xlviii., l., 
and Lin.) may stand as examples of the main body of work done 
by Turner during this visit. 



In addition to these small sketch-books he also used some of 
larger size, with the paper prepared with a wash of grey. He used 
one of these books at Tivoli, and another at Rome and Naples. 
The grey tint was of such a nature that it lifted quite easily when 
rubbed with bread or india-rubber. In this way he was able to 
indicate the chiaroscuro of his sketches with ease and celerity. The 
more elaborate drawings of Rome were made in this way, among 
them those exquisite views from Monte Mario, which have long 
been among the most admired of the drawings exhibited in the 
Turner Water-Colour Rooms at the National Gallery. Where the 
subject was an interesting one he occasionally worked over it, or 
over parts of it, with water-colour, as in the ' View of Rome from 
Monte Mario' (No. 592) here reproduced (Plate Li.), and 'The 
Colosseum' (No. 596) among the exhibited drawings. But the 
number of drawings in which Turner had recourse to colour is 
extremely limited, quite nineteen-twentieth s of them being simply 
in pencil. 

The drawings made during this visit are, in Mr. Ruskin's 
opinion, the best Turner ever made from nature. ' All the artist's 
powers,' he wrote, ' were at this period in perfection ; none of his 
faults had developed themselves ; and his energies were taxed to 
the utmost to seize, both in immediate admiration, and for future 
service, the loveliest features of some of the most historically 
interesting scenery in the world.'' And again, ' They are, in all 
respects, the most true and the most beautiful ever made by the 
painter.'^ And assuredly it would be difficult to praise these 
superb drawings too highly or too enthusiastically ; for sheer grace 
of pencilling, for skilful composition, for loving, unwearied rendering 
of architecture and natural scenery they are absolutely unrivalled. 

But it is only as drawings, as works that contain their end 
within themselves, that they can be praised so highly. They are 
probably the most beautiful topographical drawings that have ever 
been made, but Turner did not regard himself as a topographical 
draughtsman, and from his point of view the results of this 
journey cannot have been completely satisfactory. If he had 
valued himself at all on his capacity for making beautiful topo- 

' Turner Catalogue, written in 1881. National Gallery edition, 1899, p. 37. 











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graphical drawings, he would surely have taken some steps to 
bring these achievements to the notice of the public/ He did 
nothinsf of the kind. We have seen that it was his settled habit 
to regard his sketches and drawings from nature as merely the 
preUminary stages of his pictures. As Mr. Ruskin has pointed 
out, Turner, after his few years of apprenticeship, never drew 
from nature without altering and arranging what he saw. He 
never accepted the given momentary facts in a passive spirit. It 
is on record that once he said to the companion of one of his 
sketching tours Avho had got into a muddle with the drawing he 
was making, ' What are you in search of ? ' And this active 
spirit had been one of the chief characteristics of all the drawing 
from nature he had done before his visit to Italy : he had always 
been in search of something, he had always had a very clear 
and exact idea of what he wanted, and he had almost invariably 
managed to grasp just what he wanted, while encumbering himself 
with very httle else. 

This clearness of intention is absent from the Italian drawings. 
The scenery, the buildings, the people, the shipping and the 
effects of light are all new to him, and delightfully interesting. 
The novelty of his surroundings carries him out of himself. He 
becomes for a time a mere common tourist with a kind of 
accidental knack of making rapid and wonderfully beautiful 
pictorial memoranda. It is as though the creative artist had 
said to his familiar daemon, ' We are now in fair Italy. Sleep 
thou, and take a well-earned rest. The business of note-taking 
will go on automatically without thee; and when we are once 
more back in dreary London thou shalt awake as a giant refreshed 
with slumber, and shalt knead with renewed vigour the material 
that has been accumulated.' But the results achieved were not 
as satisfactory as Turner might have expected. The best that 
could be made of these wonderful sketches was two or three 
charming water-colours for Mr. Fawkes, a weak and empty 
' Forum Romanum ' for Mr. Soane's Museum, and a large ' Bay 
of Baiae,' which, as Mr. Ruskin confesses, ' is encumbered with 

^ It is also worth remarking that the value of these drawings from a topographical 
point of view, i.e. as giving information pure and simple^ is probably diminished by the 
fact that the material they contain is so skilfully selected and arranged. 



material ; it contains ten times as much as is necessary to a good 
picture, and yet is so crude in colour as to look unfinished.'^ 

It therefore depends very much upon what we are in search of, 
what conclusions we shall come to about these Italian drawings. 
If we are evangelists with a mission to preach the Gospel of 
Naturalism, we may accept them as the finest works of art 
Turner ever produced, in spite of the fact that he found them 
useless and Avorse than useless for his artistic purposes. From 
such a point of view it would be Turner's fault if these beautiful 
things threw him out and led him astray ; or, as Mr. Ruskin puts 
it, ' the effect of Italy upon his [Turner's] mind is very puzzling 
... he seems never to have entered thoroughly into the spirit of 
Italy, and the materials he obtained there were afterwards but 
awkwardly introduced into his large compositions.'" 

But if the processes of artistic creation are worth studying, 
we shall go on to ask ourselves how it is that the most elaborate, 
painstaking and thoroughly delightful drawings Turner ever made 
from nature were actually the least useful to him as a maker 
of pictures ; and how it is that exquisitely deliberate and dainty 
drawings like those in the Roman and Neapolitan sketch-books 
lead actually to the production of frigid, hybrid, pseudo-classical 
pictures, while hurried and scarcely intelligible scribbles like those 
reproduced in Plates xxvii. and xxv. had been the means of bringing 
into existence such noble and impressive pictures as the ' Wind- 
mill and Lock,' and designs like the ' Hedging and Ditching ' ? 

The answer to these questions is not far to seek. The state 
of mind necessary for the production of the two kinds of drawings 
is essentially different, and the one, which produces the exhaustive 
and accurate drawing, is antagonistic to the state of mind in 
which a strongly imaginative work of art is conceived, whUe 
the other, which produces a less immediately satisfying record, 
is actually the state of mind in which a passionately felt work of 
art comes to birth. In the drawing which we admire so much 
the emotional element is in abeyance, the cognitive or sense-per- 
ceptive is predominant ; in the other the emotional element is 
predominant. But in the first case, while the immediate result, 
considered simply in itself, is more delightful, there has been 

1 Modem Painters, vol. i. p. 132. ^ /j,-^_ p. jgo. 


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no real quickening of the artist's spirit ; in the second case, 
while the immediate result is deplorable for us, it is eloquent and 
glorious for the artist himself as the first stirring of his new- 
born spiritual progeny. 

The object of these remarks is not to attempt to convince 
us that these charming Italian drawings are at all less 
charming than they seem ; it is rather to combat the false 
deductions which Naturalism has succeeded in drawing from 
the fact that they are so genuinely delightful and so self- 
satisfying. It is inevitable that an artist shall constantly be 
making studies from nature, sharpening and exercising his powers 
of observation, and storing his note-books and memory with facts 
of natural appearances. But it does not follow that this business 
of observing and recording visual facts is the essential or even 
most important part of the artist's function. Naturalism assumes 
that it is. It therefore treats the power to copy natural objects 
faithfully and without alteration as the exact equivalent of 
the power of pictorial expression.^ And so far as the system 
of art education pursued in this country has any rational 
foundation, it is based upon this doctrine of Naturalism. Hence 
the only kind of training that is provided for English art students 
is training in this capacity of reproducing objects of sight 
accurately. This has come to be the beginning and the end 
of modern art education, with what results we have only to walk 
into any summer exhibition of the Royal Academy to see. Under 
these circumstances, I think it is important that we should give 
its due weight to any evidence that tends to invalidate these 
generally received opinions. Of course the evidence of the 
practice and line of development of one artist, even an artist 
as great as Turner, is not by itself sufficient to settle such a 
question ; but still, I submit, this evidence has a distinct bearing 
on the subject and should receive its due attention. 

If the doctrine of Naturalism possessed the universal validity 
it is assumed to possess, the pictures based upon the truest and 
most elaborate drawings Turner ever made from nature — and 
that too of the most beautiful and the most historically interest- 
ing scenery in the world — should have been the best he had so 

1 Elements of Drawing, Preface, p. x. 



far produced. They are admittedly among the worst. Tf the 
training acquired by making such drawings is essential to the 
development of the artist's powers of pictorial expression, how 
comes it that in Turner's case this training came after the pro- 
duction of his most perfect pictures, — these Italian drawings being 
made in 1819, the ' Sheerness,' ' Windsor,' ' Abingdon,' and ' Frosty 
Morning' having been painted between 1809 and 1813, and he 
had never worked from nature like this before ? This is the 
evidence. I can only beg the candid reader to give it the earnest 
consideration it seems to me to deserve. 

Turner's oil paintings produced between 1815 and 1830 cannot 
but strike us as disappointing, especially when we compare them 
with the output of the years immediately preceding this period. 
It is only as a sea-painter that Turner reminds us of his former 
mastery, and with the exception of the 'Dort' (1818) 'Entrance 
of the Meuse' (1819), the Greenwich « Battle of Trafalgar' (1823) 
and ' Now for the Painter' (1827), it would do Turner's reputa- 
tion little harm if all his oil pictures produced during these years 
were destroyed. His real greatness is only shown in this period 
by the water-colours produced mainly for the engravers. In the 
work done for the Southern Coast, Scott's Provincial Antiquities, 
the Rivers and Ports of Eiigland, and the England and Wales 
series. Turner displayed all the genuine nobleness and sweetness 
of his nature. I propose therefore to occupy the remainder of 
this chapter with a rapid survey of these undertakings, singling 
out from each one or two representative designs for closer 

We have now seen what was the character of Turner's pictures 
which gained him most applause and favour in Academic circles 
and with the public of the Academy. It is no doubt regret- 
table that a man of his talents should have to waste his time — as it 
seems to us — in the manufacture of puerile and pretentious 
specimens of Academic ' high art,' but we can easily make too 
much of the matter. There is something altogether incommensur- 
able about such a man ; he is like some great natural force, 
copious, abundant and unwearying. He must have drawn and 
painted with as little effort as ordinary mortals exert when they 
play cards or write letters to their friends. I have no doubt that 


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the 'high art' concoctions bothered him much more than his 
better works, for it was all ratiocinative, conscious, all spun out 
of the understanding without any deep-struck roots in the uncon- 
scious life of his affections. But no doubt he felt prouder of the 
results, simply because he was more conscious of the efforts. We 
have no grounds for supposing that he did not enjoy the work, 
and in return it certainly gave him comparative independence, 
and encouraged him to produce. Printsellers and publishers were 
anxious to get the celebrated Academician to work for them, and 
the big middle-class public were eager to possess themselves of 
engravings from the great man's designs. It was certainly a clear 
gain that the designer of the Southern Coast, the Richmondshire 
drawings, Scott's Provincial Antigi/ities, the Rivers and Ports of 
England, and the England and Wales series could afford to keep 
publishers and editors at arm's length, that he was so strong in 
public favour that his work was influenced by none but artistic 

It hardly comes within the scope of the present essay to study 
the drawings in detail which form the originals of Turner's en- 
graved work, important as these drawings are as examples of the 
artist's genius. Each drawing is a perfect work of art in itself, the 
fact that an engraving was to be made from it counting practically 
as nothing with the artist. If the subject did not lend itself quite 
satisfactorily to the engraver's requirements. Turner introduced 
various modifications into the engraver's proofs, but he did not 
alter the drawings. In this way the original drawings were kept as 
independent creations. Into them the artist was free to pour all 
that spontaneous native side of his talent which could find no out- 
let in his ambitious ' high art ' productions. As water-colours the 
originals of the engravings that were issued between 1814 and 
1830 are among the most remarkable and consummate achieve- 
ments of the medium. With hardly an exception they are 
worked entirely in transparent colour, and for sheer range of inven- 
tion, variety of effect, and loveliness of colour they have no equals. 
But their place is among the artist's completed works, and as our 
immediate business is with the sketches and studies, we can only 
touch upon these exquisitely beautiful water-colours incidentally ; 
i.e. only in so far as they help us to grasp the significance of 

T. S.— 7 gir 


the sketches and preliminary drawings which went to their 

It is a curious sign how httle conscious Turner was of the 
nature and hmitations of his own capacities, that the plan of the 
Southern Coast series of engravings, as it first took form in his mind, 
included a long narrative poem from his own hand describing the 
history and local peculiarities of the places he proposed to illus- 
trate. It is hardly probable that an individual with less capa- 
city for verbal expression ever sat down to write a long poem. 
Yet it is easy to see how it was that Turner came to think himself 
competent to undertake such a task. The stamp of his mind was 
genuinely poetic. He had, and knew that he had, in a high 
measure ' the vision and the faculty divine.' The inspiration of 
his best works had been drawn from the poets, from Thomson, 
Akenside, and Milton. His pictures, so far as it is possible to 
distinguish content from form, are real poems. And the technical 
accomplishment of pictorial art had come to him so easily and 
naturally that it may well have seemed to flow inevitably from the 
innate strength of his emotions and the vivid hue of his imagina- 
tion. He probably thought that he had only to take a pen in his 
hand to find the accomplishment of verse following with the 
same ease and inevitability. 

The verses Turner did succeed in writing are pathetic failures; 
the mind so intimately versed in the subtleties of visible melody 
and harmony was dead to the witchery of verbal sound. It is 
true that his failure is not quite so abject as the extracts Thorn- 
bury has printed from the attempted Southern Coast epic would 
lead one to expect, but, when aU due allowance is made for Thorn- 
bury 's blunders of transcription, the result is still quite hopeless. 
But it is otherwise when we turn to the designs made from the 
same subject-matter, and, in spite of Lessing and a host of modern 
theorists, I must insist that in their heart and essence they are 
indeed poems. 

The first number of the Southern Coast was published in 
January 1814, and the last number was not issued till May 1826, 
but with only one or two exceptions the whole of the Dorsetshire, 
Devon, Cornwall and Somersetshire subjects (and these form 
about three-quarters of the whole work) were made from sketches 


taken during a single journey in the summer of 1811. 
These sketches are the kind of notes that a poet would take ; from 
the point of view of the historian or topographer they are 
singularly incomplete. Occasionally we come across a tolerably 
elaborate drawing of a ruined castle or stretch of rocky coast, but 
even these are summary and hurried in comparison with the Italian 
drawings, and Turner seldom chose such sketches as the bases of 
his finished pictures. He certainly found them useful as the 
means of making a methodical analysis of the pictorial con- 
stituents of what he saw, and as storing his memory and giving 
matter and fulness to his own conceptions of natural phenomena. 
But there their usefulness ended. The actual embryo of the 
pictures he painted is generally a hurried scrawl about two square 
inches in size, made with a blunt pencil. 

Among the Southern Coast sketch-books is a fat little volume 
bound in brown calf, having a brass clasp and lettered on the back, 
British Itenary {sic). The title page runs as follows : — The British 
Itinerary \ or | Travellers Pocket Companion | throughout | Great 
Britain | Exhibiting | theDirect Route to Every | Borough and Com- 
mercial Town I in the | Kingdom | with the principal | Cross Roads | 
Compiled from Actual Measurement | and the best Surveys and 
Authorities | By | Nathanl. Coltman ; | Surveyor. | Employed by 
the Post Office in Measuring the Roads of | Great Britain | 
London. | Printed and Published, by Wm. Dickie, No. 120 Strand ; 
and N. Coltman, Green Walk ; Black Friars Road. | Price 3s. 
Sewed.' It contains two hundred and fifty leaves, the printed 
matter only occupying about a third of the total number, the re- 
mainder having been left blank for notes. These are now filled 
with Turner's notes of expenses incurred, the draft of the poem he 
attempted to write, and a number of minute sketches. Among 
these it is possible to recognise the originals of several of the 
Southern Coast designs, including those of Combe Martin, 
Watchet, Boscastle and Clovelly, the ' Dartmouth ' and ' Dart- 
mouth Castle ' of the Rivers of England series, and the sketch 
upon which the superb ' Stonehenge at Daybreak' (R. 81), in 
the unpublished ' Liber,' was probably founded. Two of these 
sketches have been reproduced on Plates lv. and lvi., together 
with the engravings of the completed designs. That the finished 



drawings could have been made from such slender material can 
hardly appear less than astonishing to those familiar with the 
methods of artists of the present day; but to the best of my 
belief, Turner had no other sketches or drawings of these places 
to assist him in his work, and it can only add to our amaze- 
ment when we notice that in all probability the finished draw- 
ings were made, one nearly eight years, and the other nearly 
fourteen years, after the sketches were taken ; the ' Watchet ' 
plate having been published in April 1820, and the 'Boscastle' 
in March 1825. 

When we examine carefully the sketch of Watchet we find 
that it gives us very little more than the general idea of a small 
fishing village, with a curved breakwater and a stretch of rocky 
coast running off into the distance. This general idea must have 
been all that the artist retained of his experiences of the place, 
i.e., he cannot possibly have retained any bare unattached visual 
sensations of any of the particular objects comprised in the 
scene. The details of the construction of the breakwater in the 
engraving may, for aU I know (I have never visited the place), 
be exactly like those of the actual one which Turner saw there, 
but what Uttle I know of his ordinary methods of work inclines 
me to doubt it. It is probably true enough to the general facts 
of the case, but all those little local accidents of form which the 
conscientious realist of to-day would linger over so lovingly are 
certainly ignored. No doubt when Turner was on the spot he 
looked at the breakwater, as at everything, with keen and vigilant 
eyes, and his impression of the structure would have contributed 
to the building up in his mind of a definite and concrete idea of 
the laws and customs of breakwaters in general. And when he 
set to work to elaborate his sketch it was doubtless this general 
idea which came into play, and which turned those half-dozen 
rudely scratched lines in the sketch into a sharply defined mental 
picture, as vivid to Turner's imagination as a real scene, and 
infinitely more useful for his immediate purpose, for the task 
of selection and rejection was already done. In this way the 
whole subject came to life ; the sketch, a fixed point in present per- 
ception, beckoning forth the stored essential riches of the artist's 
mind. Those three upright fines inside the breakwater turn into 













an array of fishing boats, the sea ripples into the harbour and creeps 
up the shore, the village straightens itself out and grows into 
a collection of habitable houses, with gardens and parting walls, 
the women come out of the houses to spread their washing on the 
grass to dry, others gossip in the roadway, the men have a little 
business loading or unloading one of the boats, or else see to the 
nets, or stroll idly along the jetty, and a couple set ofF on im- 
portant business along the road that leads over the hill and far 
away. The whole process, of course, is absurdly easy and familiar. 
Even the least imaginative of us is capable of some kind of 
success in this line of imaginative interpretation. The only point 
of difference between the least of us and the greatest in this 
kind of exercise is in the quality of the subjective filling -out 
with which we clothe our meagre data, in the wealth of ex- 
perience stored and refined by thought, its coherence, and above 
all, its clear-cut precision and definition. The power to force 
all the floating imagery thus called up to what I think Blake 
called ' the seeing point ' — to make the mental imagery as clear- 
cut and vivid as an actual object of sight, and then to use it as 
the material for the construction of a picture, these are ex- 
ceptional capacities ; but we can hardly doubt that the psycho- 
logical processes which connect sketch and imaginative amplifica- 
tion, even in the mind of the most gifted artist, are the same as 
those which connect sign and interpretation in the minds of all 
normally constituted individuals. 

To an artist trained in modern methods of literal trans- 
cription, it is curious to notice the liberties Turner allows himself 
to take with his own sketch. In it the main shapes of the mass 
of rock in the middle distance are pretty clearly marked, but 
instead of carefully retaining these and amplifying them, his 
busy mind sets to work and builds the whole structure up afresh. 
In the end it comes out very different from the sketch, but it 
is so well and truly put together, it is so thoroughly steeped in 
the profound knowledge garnered in years of the sharpest ob- 
servation and study, that we accept it more gladly than an 
unintelligent transcript of any particular rock formation. Nay 
more, even if we had forced Turner himself to stay there on the 
spot, and elaborate his representation with the scene in front of 



his eyes, there would have been no gain to the drawing, for the 
result could not possibly have been more thoroughly penetrated 
with the laws of human thought and observation. 

We notice the same freedom in dealing with the ' Boscastle ' 
sketch. The general character only of the rocks on the right 
is there indicated, but in the engraving the whole mass is re- 
created from the stores of the artist's knowledge. In the sketch, 
too, there is no authority for the solid masonry on the rock 
to the left, immediately below the gang of men assisting the 
vessel into harbour. Note also the alteration in the profile of 
this rock, which slopes less abruptly in the sketch than in the 

It is true that these two plates can hardly be ranked as 
among the finest of the Southern Coast subjects ; the ' Watchet ' is, 
I think, rather a poor design, and though the ' Boscastle ' is finer, 
it can hardly be classed with such consummate achievements as 
the ' Plymouth Dock, from Mount Edgecumbe,' ' Poole,' or ' The 
Land's End.' In these designs the subjective synthesis has a 
more distinctly emotional setting, but there can be no doubt 
that the processes of imaginative construction are on exactly the 
same lines as those we have just indicated. In every case the 
active motive force is something within the artist's own soul ; 
it is not given from without. 

The next important publication with which Turner was con- 
nected after the commencement of the Southern Coast, was 
Whitaker's History of Richmondshire, to which he furnished a 
series of twenty illustrations. This set of drawings, often spoken 
of as ' the Yorkshire series,' has always been regarded with peculiar 
affection by all lovers of Turner's water-colour work. The 
originals are nearly all in private collections (where I hope they 
will be carefully guarded from the light, as the blues in them are 
of a fugitive nature), but there are two permanently accessible 
to the public in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge — thanks 
to Mr. Ruskin's generosity — and a third is in London, in the 
Victoria and Albert INIuseum. The Cambridge drawings, the 
' Richmond, Yorks,' and the ' Mossdale Fall,' are already 
somewhat faded, especially the latter one, but the London 
drawing, of ' Hornby Castle,' thanks to Mr. Vaughan's wise 


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stipulation that it shall always be protected by a curtain when 
not being looked at, is still in fairly good condition. The engrav- 
ings from the whole series were published between the years 1819 
and 1823, but the sketches on which the drawings were based 
were all made during a tour in the summer of 1816. 

So far as I know, Turner did not make a single colour 
sketch from nature during the whole of this tour. All the 
sketches are in pencil and the water-colours were all painted 
in the studio entirely from these pencil memoranda. The 
sketches are very similar to those made for the Southern Coast 
subjects, but they contain evidence that the artist was in a softer 
and gentler frame of mind. The conquering Napoleonic insolence 
has passed into an attitude of human and affectionate solicitude. 
The touch of the pencil point is everywhere light and graceful, 
yet it is as swift as ever, never lingering for a moment over 
details or particular facts. This is especially noticeable in the 
treatment of foliage ; the pencil seeming always to caress the 
general idea of foliage, while holding the particular shapes and 
even positions of trees and bushes as of only slight importance. 
The work, one cannot but feel, is that of a happy and contented 
man, at peace with himself and pleased with his surroundings. 
When we remember the close proximity of Farnley Hall to 
these scenes, and that Mr. and Mrs. Fawkes and their family 
actually accompanied the artist over part of the ground, we can 
hardly be surprised at the sunniness of temper evinced by these 

In nearly all the designs human figures and cattle play a 
prominent part. This is noticeably the case with the two subjects 
I have chosen for illustration. In the ' Hornby Castle ' the 
incident of the broken jug, the weeping maiden, the sympathetic 
bystanders, the picturesque passer-by on his donkey, the busy 
mUk-maid, and above all the cat, triumphantly lapping up the 
spilt milk, all this is at least as important an element in the 
picture as the Castle and view itself. In the ' Heysham ' the 
reapers, cattle, milkmaid, and passing waggon seem to form the 
keynote of the whole design. Yet there are no sketches or even 
the slightest indications of any of these things in the sketch- 
books. They were evolved, I firmly believe, entirely by the artists' 



creative imagination as each scene came to life under his hands 
in the studio. To some extent, no doubt, the decorative or 
mechanical requirements of the subject sohcited their existence. 
In the ' Heysham,' for example, lines are wanted in the fore- 
ground to repeat with variations the horizontal undulations of 
the mountains in the distance and middle-distance ; the cast 
shadows do this, and hence we have the presence of the cows 
and figures as pretexts for these shadows. And then we may as 
well make these objects useful in themselves ; hence the turn of 
the foreground cow's neck placed just where it seems to complete 
the curve of the descending hills, and the sharp silhouette of the 
head catches the eye while the cast shadow swings it away 
in a new and happy direction. Exactly why the eye should 
find such exquisite enjoyment in the plunge down from the 
hill's profile to the head of the calf, rubbing her nose against 
the back of the seated white cow, and then on to the foreground 
beast, and then in springing off again at a shai-p angle to the 
bottom of the large foreground stone in the corner just above 
the signature, — exactly why we take pleasure in this kind of 
visual melody, I do not know, but I know that the tracks laid 
for visible flights of this kind, crossing each other and inter- 
weaving in aU directions, form a very large part of the enjoy- 
ment which Turner's drawings provide. 

The pencil sketch of Heysham (Plate Lix. (a)) thus formed, 
as it were, the leading motive of the water-colour drawing, or 
rather it provided a series of shapes which could not be varied 
beyond certain limits, and these shapes formed the starting-point 
of the elaborate visual movement which Turner proceeded to 
invent and weave round it. I called just now this side of the 
work ' decorative or mechanical,' because I wished to distinguish 
it from a different but related aspect. This unmeaning and 
abstract play of lines is like the rhyme, assonance and rhythm of 
a poem ; a part, but an unconscious, and as it were dependent, part, 
of the whole effect. No sane person would read a poem expressly 
for the jingle of the sounds, unless for the purposes of analysis, 
and in the same way, no sane lover of pictures would look at this 
drawing of Heysham merely for the visible play of the lines and 
masses. Neither can the artist or poet abandon themselves to the 







mere unmeaning play of sounds or lines in the process of com- 
position. These external requirements must be subordinated to 
the requirements of the meaning. And so, though I said just 
now that these mechanical requirements may have had some 
share in calling the figures and incidents represented into being, 
we must be careful not to forget that that share is only of slight 
and subordinate importance. What is important is the essential 
congruity of the figures and incidents with the landscape itself; 
they must appear not as something arbitrarily added, but as a 
mere development or further determination of the meaning already 
implicit in the landscape. In the present case so intimate is what 
I may call the logical identity between the bare view, as repre- 
sented by the initial sketch, and as a topographical fact, and the 
whole living and moving scene as represented by the finished 
design, that the development of the one from the other seems as 
inevitable as the march of the seasons or the processes of growth 
and decay to which we ourselves are subject. 

From this point of view I think it is easy to see that such a 
result is attainable in no other way than that which Turner has 
followed. No actual scene could ever possess quite the same 
close-knit logical coherence, the same absolute absence of irrele- 
vance, as we find in Turner's finished drawing ; so that the 
most faithful and loving and skilful reproduction of the most 
carefully selected aspect of actuality would never give us the 
same kind of outer and inner unity that Turner has achieved by 
his method of amplifying, modifying, and interpreting his slight 
pencil sketches. Only in this way can the active forces of inter- 
pretation or assimilation, by which the artist as well as the meanest 
of us fills out the incoming suggestions of the given, achieve 
adequate expression. A psychologist might perhaps describe the 
difference between a faithful transcription of an actual scene and 
such an effort of the creative imagination as we have just been 
studying, by saying that the one is a representation of the incom- 
ing or given ideas or sensations, while Turner's picture represents 
these same ideas or sensations after they have been thoroughly 
' apperceived ' by the masses of ideas stored in the artist's mind. 
If we adopt such a description, we must not forget to add that 
Turner has used his knowledge of the mechanism of the pictorial 



language to set out his total idea for us in the clearest and 
pleasantest way. 

As with the Heysham sketch, so with the Hornby.^ I need 
perhaps hardly call attention to the deliberate heightening of 
Hornby Castle, and to the way the back of the nearer hill in 
front of it has been humped in the finished design. This de- 
liberate falsification (as it must seem to the literalist) is paralleled 
by the treatment of the foreground tree, whose individuality is 
destroyed, and whose place is taken by a mere alien grown in the 
fertile climate of the artist's imagination. 1 have no doubt that 
if Turner could have got the same effect without making these 
alterations he would not have made them. But it is obvious that 
he could not. From his point of view such alterations are merely 
grammatical devices by which he throws the required emphasis 
on qualities which hills and trees do undeniably possess, but which 
were somewhat slurred over in nature's momentary presentment 
of the case. And if we think about the matter calmly, we see 
that we cannot expect any object to enter into new relations 
without undergoing some kind of modification ; I mean that we 
cannot expect physical facts to be taken up into the intelligible 
world and used as factors in the expression of ideas and 
emotions without requiring some kind of modification. 

While Turner was producing these exquisite drawings for 
Whitaker's History of Richmondshire, he also executed a series of 
ten or eleven slightly smaller drawings to illustrate Sir Walter 
Scott's Provincial Antiquities and Picturesque Scenery of Scot- 
land. Eight of these drawings were presented by the publishers 
to Scott, who had them framed from an oak fell6d on the Abbots- 
ford estate during Turner's visit there in 1818. The effect of 
this frame on the drawings, it must be confessed, is atrocious. It 
might be guaranteed to kill the effect of any water-colour draw- 
ings but the radiantly immortal ones for which it was made. No 
doubt even these would look better out of it, but such as it is 
it hung in the breakfast-room at Abbotsford till after Scott's 
death, and as it then hung, so it hangs now in Mr. Thomas 
Brocklebank's hospitable mansion at Heswall, Chester. 

When we draw the curtain, which has kept Turner's beautiful 

' Plate Lvii. 


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work as fresh as when it was first executed, and look at these 
drawings, it is difficult to single out any one of them for special 
attention. But after looking through the engravings made from 
them in Scott's book, the marvellous view of ' Edinburgh from the 
Calton Hill ' leaves perhaps the most powerful impression on the 
imagination. I have, therefore, selected the drawing made from 
nature upon which this design was based as the subject of one of 
our illustrations (Plate lx.). 

In this case we find that Turner has followed his sketch with 
great care, yet the whole material has been hammered this way 
and that by his powerful hand. We can see that the artist felt 
impatient with nature's calm and unhurried chronicle of facts, and 
was determined at all costs to make a more immediate and con- 
centrated attack on the spectator's powers of perception. Instead 
of stretching out calmly and indifferently on both hands, as in the 
sketch, the city in the finished design seems to soar upwards from 
the depths beneath our feet. The jail on our left has been 
squeezed together, making the line from the porch to the central 
turret much more oblique than it Avas. The perspective of nearly 
all the buildings has been modified, yet the artist has taken great 
care to preserve the character of the silhouettes of the leading 
planes. But it is in the invention of the play of light which 
animates the whole, and throws into such strong relief all the 
telling points of the design, that we find the clearest evidence of 
the artist's active intervention. 

A curious instance of Turner's habit of using his notes rather 
as hints to his imagination than as providing ready-made material 
waiting for immediate incorporation, is afforded by the sketches 
of some figures made while he was standing on the Calton Hill. 
On the back of one of the pages on which our view of Edin- 
burgh is drawn, there is a rough sketch of the brow of the hill 
with groups of figures on it. Among these figures are three girls 
attending to the drying of the clothes they have washed. One 
of these is standing shaking out a cloth in the wind. But though 
Turner has introduced this incident into the foreground of his 
picture, the figure there is not a repetition of the graceful 
figure in the sketch. In the picture the action has been changed, 
and the figure presented in a different point of view. It is 



designed altogether afresh. In the same way none of the other 
figures is repeated in the finished drawing. The figures in the 
drawing are indeed the same sort of people as in the sketch, but 
each is designed specially for its place, and with reference to the 
movement of the whole picture. All this is eminently charac- 
teristic of the cast of Turner's mind, which seems to store scenes 
and incidents in complete independence of their momentary and 
particular appearance ; he is thus able to set these invisible 
essences in motion before his mind's eye, and to wait till they 
arrange themselves to his complete satisfaction, and he has then no 
difficulty in clothing them with the attributes of time and space. 

We will turn now to a sketch of a different kind. In the 
' Edinburgh,' ' Heysham ' and ' Hornby ' sketches, as in most of 
those we have examined, we have seen Turner making a note of 
what we may call the chief items of the topographical data, 
leaving the problem of their arrangement, modification and 
amplification for future solution. In the two sketches of Rochester 
(Plates Lxii. {a) and {b)) which I have had reproduced, we see the 
artist's mind moving on a different track. A few pages earlier in 
the sketch-book from which these two leaves are taken, he has 
indeed made his usual record of the facts about the church, bridge, 
etc., at Rochester, but apparently, as time did not press, he 
remained in his boat watching the scene and criticising, as one 
who understood such things, nature's own methods of design. 
His sketches now become not topographical records but swift and 
eloquent designs for pictures. The concrete particularity of the 
castle, church, bridge, etc., becomes abrogated or submerged. 
These objects are now taken up into a new kind of systematic 
unity, in which their relationship to the whole and to each other 
is of much more importance than their discrete individuality. 
Now, the important point is just how the Castle and the other 
topographical items drop into place with regard to the shipping 
on the river, — the kind of groups they all make, the way the one 
item affects the other, half hiding it or setting it off to advantage. 
In the sketch on page 18 of the sketch-book (Plate lxii. (a)) the 
exact position of the mast of the foreground vessel is the dominant 
factor, — the way it unites the lines described by the silhouette of 
the castle and the trees sloping down to the bridge, bringing the 

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curves to a focus, as it were, and providing a rigid base for them 
to spring from again. In the other sketch (Plate lxii. (b) ) Turner 
is trying a different arrangement of the material, or, to put it more 
accurately, nature is trying another effect, and Turner is watching 
and making notes of the experiment. 

In this way, before Turner shut up his book he had made over 
a dozen skeleton designs, which he had only to clothe in colour 
and light and shade to develop into beautiful pictures. But when 
he got home and actually set to work to make the drawing 
of Rochester for the Rivers of England series, he deliber- 
ately ignored every one of nature's pregnant suggestions, and 
began to build up his own design in his own way. Perhaps he 
thought nature's designs wanted more space than he had at his 
command in a plate that was to be only a few inches square ; 
perhaps it was the sheer delight in the exercise of his creative 
powers that was the main motive force, for though his sketch- 
books teem with designs caught in this way on the wing, yet he 
never once, so far as I can discover, adopted one of them in his 
own pictures, without so modifying and recasting it as to make 
it into a quite new and independent construction. 

I am not at all sure of the exact date when the sketch of 
Bolton Abbey (Plate lxiv.) was made. It is the sketch upon 
which the water-colour engraved in the England and Wales 
series was based. The engraving was published in 1827, so the 
water-colour must have been made a year or two earlier, but as 
the sketch occurs in a book which contains a number of the 
Devonshire Rivers subjects, it probably belongs to about the time 
of Turner's second visit to Devonshire. This visit took place in 
either 1812 or 1813, and the Wharfedale sketches, of which the 
'Bolton' is one, cannot have been later than 1815. So it is 
probable that at least ten years elapsed between the making of 
the sketch and the water-colour drawing in which the sketch was 

The drawing itself is one of the most universally admii'ed of all 
the England and Wales subjects. Mr. Ruskin alludes to it again 
and again in the various volumes of Modern Painters. In the 
fourth volume (chapter xvi.) he gives an admirable analysis of 
the imaginative conception, and in volume three (chapter ix.) he 



dwells with his usual eloquence on the knowledge displayed in the 
treatment of the foreground trees. With the general tenor of 
these remarks I am in entire agreement, and if the passages were 
not so long I should like to introduce them here, but unless the 
reader is very careful, I am inclined to think that Mr. Ruskin's 
constant appeal to ' the facts ' is hkely to mislead him into the 
belief that all the details of the design, and especially those of the 
foreground trees, are elaborately studied and accurately reproduced 
from the actual scene. Turner's sketch proves that this was not 
the case. Each individual tree, every curve in its trunk, the 
texture of its bark, the stains and hollows and flickering lights 
and shadows upon it, and the intricate play of the trees' upper 
branches, all these have been, not painstakingly studied from 
nature, but invented by the artist in his studio, and each detail has 
been invented not entirely for its own sake, but as a note, a chord, 
in the whole complex of visible harmony. 

I do not think any more wonderful example could be given of 
the intense activity of creative genius than that which is furnished 
by a careful comparison of this drawing with the sketch upon 
which it was based. We look at the sketch, and all the subject 
seems there ; as a synopsis of the finished picture it seems tolerably 
complete. Yet in the drawing we find almost every detail has 
been altered. Notice the way the foreground trees have been 
pushed nearer to each other. In the sketch one has to search for 
the abbey, and then one's eyes begin to wander about aimlessly. 
But in the drawing everything is brought into connection with 
everything else ; it is all welded together. The abbey is the first 
thing one sees, then the eye goes easily and inevitably to the 
second couple of foreground trees, the seated angler and the 
distant river-bank. In passing from one object to the other 
the eye feels something of the same kind of pleasure that the ear 
takes in the rhythm of verse, so that one's gaze travels over the 
drawing not vagrantly and with effort, but gladly, and to the 
spectator all this visible melody and delight seem like the 
unconscious expression of the secret joy with which the artist's 
mind played round the scene, an echo of the mysterious music of 
his happy memories. 

The effect of the ' Bolton ' drawing is that of a bright summer's 


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afternoon, an effect that does not change very rapidly ; the sUght- 
ness of Turner's sketch was not, therefore, a necessary outcome of 
the transitory nature of his subject-matter. Had he been so 
minded he could easily have painted the whole subject out-of- 
doors. But with the ' Colchester ' drawing, another of the 
England and Wales subjects, published about the same time as 
the ' Bolton,' the case was different. There the effect is a momen- 
tary one. It is evening, the shades of twilight have gathered, 
and the sun is on the point of disappearing. There was only time 
for a few hasty memoranda ; but while the modern artist would 
almost invariably make his memoranda in colour. Turner is quite 
satisfied with his usual hurried pencil notes. In the sketches here 
reproduced (Plate lxvi.) we have a kind of abstract of the whole 
scene. There is the miller's house beside the river at the foot of 
the hill, while the hill is crowned by a row of trees through which 
the abbey building and the roofs of the distant town can be seen. 
The position of the sun and of its reflection in the river are 

The general idea of the whole is certainly there in the sketches, 
but in a rudimentary or indeterminate condition. Note how 
deliberately vague and undefined the idea of the trees on the brow 
of the hill has been kept. A distant abbey-building set in the 
delicate tracery of gracefully branching trees, the whole framed in 
masses of feathery foliage, that was the general idea of this part of 
the design, and Turner knew that he was familiar enough with the 
nature and ways of trees to be able to carry out this idea with all 
the requisite wealth of detail whenever he should set himself 
seriously to the task. The exact shapes of the trees actually 
growing there on the hillside on the day and at the moment when 
he made this sketch were, apart from their general idea, a matter of 
indifference to him. If he had cared very much about them he 
could easily have gone there the next morning and drawn them 
carefully ; they would hardly have altered much in the night. 
But these shapes would have surely wanted revision, alteration 
and suppression, before they could have taken their places as a 
perfectly articulated limb in Turner's living, organic design. The 
result could not have been more satisfactory than the one reached 
without this labour. 



As with the row of trees, so with the miller's house, the 
cottages creeping up the hillside and the distant town. The 
pencil hieroglyphs are enough to suggest the general idea of these 
objects, their appropriate particularities will unroll themselves 
from the stored treasures of Turner's mind so soon as he takes his 
pencil in hand again to carry forward his work ; not the actual 
details of the cottages, etc., existing down there in Essex, but the 
details appropriate to the picture as an expression of an emotional 

The drawings in the England and Wales series produced in 
this way, in which a definite particular experience of the artist is 
enshrined as it were in a wealth of appropriate and beautifully 
arranged shapes and colours, are among the best of the series. 
But the pressure of professional engagements did not always 
permit the artist to wait for this kind of inspiration. On such 
occasions he appears to have fallen back on the material stored in 
his early sketch-books, and his rhetorical mastery of the elements 
of design was taxed to the uttermost to provide it with suitable 
clothing and ornament. An excellent example of this kind of 
work is provided by the drawing of Stamford, published in 1830. 
This was founded on one of tlie sketches made during Turner's 
first tour in the North of England, in 1797. This sketch (Plate 
Lxviii.) is no doubt a fairly accurate record of the place, its 
humdrum streets and houses, with its three triumphant bursts of 
idealism in the shape of its three unimaginative church towers. 

In taking up this sketch thirty years after it was made, Turner 
seems to have asked himself, ' What am I to do to make this dull 
affair into something universally interesting ? ' that is to say, into 
something interesting and even amusing to those who care nothing 
for Stamford merely for its own sake. Of course the first thing 
for him to do was obviously to seize upon the three towers and 
make the most of them, setting them up against a gorgeous sky 
filled with rain and thunder and the darting rays of the thwarted 
sun, which, however, must so far triumph in its contest as to flood 
the towers with its light and transfigure them with its splendour. 
The street below remains dull and untractable, but yet something 
may be made of it. We can gain one point by insisting on 
the smallness and homeliness of the houses, intensifying their 




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unimaginative character into something approaching the grotesque. 
Better the actively ugly, for that at least makes our dullest and 
largest church tower look almost beautiful by contrast, than the 
passively commonplace. And then, lest our modest efforts remain 
of small avail, we invent a couple of quaint old travellers hurrying 
across the road to their inn, accompanied by the barks and gambols 
of a Hvely little white dog ; by good luck and our own skilful 
management they come just in front of our dull row of houses, so 
that what with one thing and another we find our eyes and 
thoughts very pleasantly diverted. As for the houses on the left 
we can shut off a great part of them by simply drawing up a 
lumbering stage-coach on that side of the road and heaping it with 
ample females in swelling draperies, with burgeoning umbrellas and 
bounteous baggage. And having got so far, we can now see exactly 
what it is we want to make our foreground and distance more 
immediately effective. In the sketch there is a hint that the road 
dips just a trifle down from the foreground to the church ; we 
increase this slight inequality till we get a dip of something like 
forty or fifty feet between us and the church, a drop that gives 
uncommon height and dignity to our humble towers. And now, 
having got our street laid out to our liking, we want to make the 
most of its possibilities, so we set another stage-coach down at the 
foot of our little hill, load it with passengers impatient to be out 
of their wet clothes, and give it a couple of rearing, prancing, 
steaming horses to gallop it in hot haste up the declivity, so that 
now, as we look at the engraving, we can almost hear the ring of 
the horses' hooves on the stones and feel the rush of wind made 
by the coach as it dashes past us ; all this merely by way of 
amplifying the artist's statement about his imaginary bill, and to 
drive the idea of his well-invented fiction home into the conscious- 
ness of even the dullest of his audience. 

The ' Tynemouth ' design, published in 1831, is on a higher 
plane of imaginative creation than the ' Stamford ' subject, yet it 
was built up in j ust the same way from a sketch made at the same 
time on another leaf of the same sketch-book. The ' Stamford ' 
design shows Turner struggling valiantly against the absence of 
any very pressing inspiration, and emerging with credit from the 
ordeal ; the ' Tynemouth ' drawing, on the other hand, shows that 

T.S.-8 113 


his youthful and thirty-year old topographical sketch had served to 
set his imagination aflame with all the urgency of a recent personal 
experience. The vision conjured up by what I can only call the 
potential or possible associations of a rocky coast had so much 
completeness, so much innate driving force, that Turner had no 
need to resort to the purely external and arbitrary tricks of 
composition which had proved such valuable auxiliaries in the 
' Stamford ' drawing. In the case of the ' Stamford ' subject, we 
might almost say that the pictorial equivalent of the rhyme and 
metre had suggested the sense ; in the case of the ' Tynemouth ' 
drawing the idea itself is so vivid that it creates its own lilt and 

In looking through a number of Turner's drawings the hasty 
observer — especially should he be a professional student eager to 
pick up useful knowledge — is inclined to jump to the conclusion 
that the important thing about rocks and mountains is to be high, 
and that when the height of the most prominent buildings, 
especially if they happen to be in ruins, has been increased three 
or fourfold, all the duties of the imaginative designer have been 
attended to. In the ' Tynemouth ' drawing we see how free 
Turner is from the constraint of any such ready-made and purely 
external rules of design. He has here deliberately lowered the 
apparent height of his buildings and cliffs, and, if we examine the 
matter carefully, we see that he has done this not at tlie dictates 
of a passing whim or fancy, but because the heart of the matter — 
the so-called ' subject,' that vague, intangible, elusive something 
which seems to sit in the centre of the dynamical idea and pump 
blood and life into every outlying portion of the organism, and 
tyrannises so beneficently over the structure and function of each 
part of the design — because this heart of the matter would clearly 
have it so. 

In the sketch we have an item of brute fact waiting, as it were, 
pathetically to be taken up into the world of thought and feeling, 
asking, so to speak, to be made significant and human. The artist 
has gi'anted the request in his finished design by making the 
physical facts the mere passive spectators of man's sorrow and 
suffering. In the sketch, the tall cliffs and ruined walls of the 
priory tower above the small fishing-boat struggling into port ; in 


the picture, the tall masts of the wrecked schooner dwarf the priory 
and the cliffs and drive them into subordination. The real centre 
of interest is the active, restless power of the sea for ill. The 
baneful little leaps of the waves that fill nearly all the lower part 
of the design tell their story of storm and wreck plainly enough. 
The ^vrecked barques under the cliffs are in a sad plight, but 
the pieces of floating mast and broken plank in the foreground 
tell of worse things. On the shore we have the thrifty gatherers 
of flotsam and jetsam, and a crowd of Avilling helpers. On all this 
moving scene the wreck of the priory looks down not without 
sympathy ; it too, it seems to say, is a part of man's activity and 
ambition, it suffers also from the taint of mortality and from the 
merciless power of the wind and rain. 




Mental characteristics of 1815-1S30 period — Their influence on form — 
and colour — Colour enrichment a general characteristic of Romantic Art — 
What further development is required to give us the transition to Impres- 
sionism ? — The first of Turner's so-called Impressionistic works — Vague- 
ness or indistinctness as a means of expression — Two ways of painting one's 
impressions — Turner's earlier way — contrasted with the modern Impres- 
sionistic way — The change, after 1830, is it a change in terms of sight or 
of thought — visual or mental ? — The content of Turner's later work — The 
relation of Turner's later work to Impressionism defined — The gradual 
development of Turner's later manner — The Petworth sketches (1830) — 
The discovery of the artistic value of the indeterminate — The Vignettes — 
'Rivers of France' — Venetian sketches (1 834-1840) — Swiss and Rhine 
sketches (lS41-184-i)— The end. 

WHEN we try to make clear to ourselves the inner char- 
acteristics of the period studied in the last chapter, 
we notice at once a change from the gloom, sternness 
and patient endurance of the earlier decade to a brighter and 
more cheerful frame of mind. Turner's predominant frame of 
mind is proud and happy. He seems to rejoice in the splendour 
of the world and exult over the richness and variety of its 
material. His attitude towards humanity is not so easily defined. 
In the best of his oil paintings, as in the ' Pas de Calais' (' Now 
for the Painter'), and in his water colours, there is an abundance 
of close and sympathetic observation of the labours and sorrow 
of mankind. But in spite of the graces of a naturally kind heart 
Turner's attitude towards these labours and sufferings is not 
entirely free from traces of hardness and selfishness. His instinct 
for the picturesque side of this kind of subject-matter is so keen, 
and his insistence on this picturesqueness is so constant and so 


emphatic, that it is hard to resist the suspicion that his interest 
is rather professional than personal. He does not seem to feel 
himself an actor and a fellow- sufferer. He was on the other side 
of the fence ; he was the artist, and labouring, suffering mankind 
his material. And so far as he himself was concerned he had 
every reason for exultation. The nature that could endow a 
humbly born youth with such gifts as he possessed, and the society 
that had rewarded these talents so generously, might be said to have 
fairly earned the young painter's gratitude. He gav^e it effusively, 
with none of the ulterior reserves an educated Greek would have 
felt in the presence of a great happiness or pre-eminent success. 

Let us now turn to the outward and visible results of this 
exultant and somewhat heartless and selfish enjoyment. The 
movement of the design, the quality of the tone and colour, and 
the spirit of the handling of the pictures in which such a frame 
of mind is expressed, could not possibly be the same as in 
Turner's earlier pictures. The sober and restrained colouring 
of pictures like the ' Windsor,' the ' Frosty JNIorning ' and ' The 
Nore,' is in perfect harmony with the patient strength and stern- 
ness of the emotional colouring of their inspiration. The same 
mood could not be expressed in any other scheme of lighting and 
colour. But to treat what, for want of a better word, I may call a 
pictorial metre, as though it were equally admirable as a means 
of expression for all kinds and shades of emotion, would argue 
an extraordinary dulness or sheer absence of artistic capacity ; 
and Turner's shortcomings, if he had any, were moral rather than 

Given then the mood of exultant enjoyment of the physical 
amenities of the world, a lighter and brighter colour scheme than 
that of Turner's earlier pictures was bound to be forthcoming, if 
that mood was to be fully expressed by pictorial art. And as a 
matter of history Turner was the first modern artist in the range 
of landscape art to give adequate expression to this sentiment of 
unrestrained enjoyment of the physical delights of nature, though 
we see the same swelling sense of the pride of life finding a 
similar form of expression in the works of contemporary figure- 
painters like Sir Thomas Lawrence, Shee and Hayter in England, 
and Delacroix, Isabey, and others in France. 



In the present chapter I propose to deal with the closing phase 
of Turner's art. In the works of this period Turner has been 
said to have initiated a new kind of art, or at least to have 
invented or introduced certain important innovations in the 
region of colour and tone, which have had the effect of develop- 
ing new possibilities in the art of landscape-painting. It is from 
this point of view, and with reference to this aspect of Turner's 
work, that he has been hailed as the father of Impressionism. 
Before discussing the value of the innovations Turner introduced 
and their influence on subsequent developments of the art, it is 
important to study the immediate causes which brought them 
into existence. In other words, we must study this new phase 
of Turner's art in relation to its immediate antecedents ; in the 
first place, to see how far it can be regarded as a necessary develop- 
ment of what had gone before, and in the second place, to discover 
exactly what is new in it. 

The two most striking characteristics of Turner's later work 
are the brightness and extended range of his colour schemes. But 
this formal characteristic is clearly taken over bodily from the 
previous period, and we have just seen that it was but the neces- 
sary outward expression of the spiritual content with which 
Turner was then preoccupied. In a picture like ' Ulysses deriding 
Polyphemus' (1829), for example, we have a colour scheme as 
bright and as extended as that of any of the later works, and yet 
it is emphatically a work of the Romantic period. It is all ablaze 
with the light and flame of human pride. Its gorgeous array of 
blues, its burnished gold and glowing crimson and scarlet and 
white are but the triumphant expression of the mood of unre- 
strained sensuous enjoyment which formed the key-note of the 
work we have just been examining. 

But if the lightening of the colour scheme was simply an in- 
heritance from the Romantic phase of art, what are we to regard 
as the special contribution of the later manner ? A comparison 
of a few of Turner's later works with the ' Ulysses ' will show us 
at once. The earliest example of Turner's later and so-called 
Impressionistic manner with which I am familiar is the ' Calais 
Sands, low water — Poissards collecting bait,' which was exhibited 
in 1830, and is now in the Bury Art Gallery. Its colour 


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scheme is actually more subdued than the ' Ulysses,' but the 
whole effect is more vaporous and the figures are less distinct. 
So far as I am able to judge, this is the chief differentia of 
Turner's later manner, and of all Impressionistic work on its 
formal side. As a second characteristic we may add the fact 
that it deals with a scene of contemporary life, something that 
Turner had actually seen with his eyes, not something that he 
had read about and imagined, as in the ' Ulysses.' 

If we examine ' The Evening Star ' and ' At Petworth ' (both 
at the Tate Gallery), the ' Snowstorm ' of 1842, the late Venetian 
pictures, and the ' Rain, Storm, Speed ' of 1844, wefiind these works 
are all similarly distinguished by their general vagueness of defini- 
tion and by the fact that they all represent scenes which had 
come within the range of the artist's own experience. 

Yet it is evident that these two characteristics are not of 
equal importance. The vagueness of definition was a general char- 
acteristic of all Turner's later work, but a considerable number of 
these works were purely imaginary compositions, as for example 
the ' Agi-ippina landing with the Ashes of Germanicus ' (1839), 
' The Exile and the rock limpet ' (1842), ' The Evening of the 
Deluge' (1843), 'Queen Mab's Cave' (1846), and the various 
'Whaler' pictures (1845 and 1846). There is obviously, then, 
no necessary connection between Turner's vagueness of execution 
(his distinctively Impressionist manner) and his choice of subject 
of which he had been actually an eye-witness. 

Besides, we must remember that Turner did not wait till his 
later years before beginning to paint his own impressions. He 
had been busy painting them ever since he had come to artistic 
maturity. His 'Calais Pier' (1803), the ' Spithead ' (1809), 
' Petworth— Dewy Morning ' (1810), ' Teignmouth ' and 'Hulks 
on the Tamar' (1811 and 1812), and 'Frosty Morning' (1813), 
— to name only a few — were certainly works of this kind ; as 
were the ' Hedging and Ditching ' of the Liber and the 
' Colchester ' of the England and Wales series. But there is 
no lack of determination in the execution of these works. The 
difference between Turner's later attempts to paint his impres- 
sions and his earlier must therefore be found in his attitude 
towards these impressions — the principle of selection, of suppres- 



sion and adjustment upon which he dealt with the data of sense- 
perception ; and this brings us to the consideration of the 
rationale of that vagueness of execution which we have agreed 
to regard as the chief characteristic of Turner's later work. 

An ingenious and at first somewhat plausible attempt has 
been made to explain the peculiarities of Turner's later style, on 
the ground that old age and failing health had brought about 
an actual organic change in the artist's powers of sight. But 
it seems to me that Dr. Liebreich's arguments ^ and conclusions are 
vitiated by his failure to discriminate between Turner's manner 
of expression and the action of his eyesight. These are two 
clearly distinct operations. Between the act of seeing and an 
artist's fully organised manner of expression, a whole host of con- 
siderations — among them the limitations and capacities of the 
material — interpose themselves. These considerations must all 
receive their due weight. I know several very short-sighted 
artists whose pictures are remarkable for their elaborate and 
sharply defined details, and there are others with strong and 
good eyesight, whose pictures are confused and indistinct. An 
artist puts into his pictures only what he chooses to put there. 
And when we work out in detail the reasons why Turner chose 
to make his drawings indistinct, we find that such considerations 
are quite sufficient by themselves to account for his change of 
style, without having recourse to any hypothetical alteration in his 
organs of sight. 

The clue, then, to the nature of Turner's later manner of 
expression is to be found in the character not of his optical 
sensations but of his thought, or in other M^ords, upon the mode 
in which his intelligent self reacted upon the immediate data 
of sense-perception. By the time he had reached the period with 
which we are now concerned, he had lost much of his interest 
in the material world. He cared no longer for the strength and 
weight, the toughness and tang of material ; that delight in the 
solidity of real objects which gives such a manly gusto to his 
early sea-pieces, is now altogether absent from his work. He 
cares no longer for the company of men, or for their avocations 

'Turner and Mulready. — On the Effect of certain Faults of Vision, etc' By R. 
Liebreich. Macmitlnn's Magazine) April 1872. 


or joys and sorrows. He is now a lonely old man, with his 
thoughts mainly centred upon himself, upon his artistic genius, 
his artistic fame, and the visions of future pictures by which his 
genius was to continue to manifest itself, and by which his fame 
was to be increased or sustained. 

We have then to think of Turner as a solitary dreamer of 
dreams, with a professional interest in the capacity of these dreams 
to startle a rather stupid public. If we want to enter intimately 
into the spiritual and emotional content of his dreams we have 
only to turn to the contemporary works of the poets. In pictures 
like ' The Fountain of Indolence,' the ' Agrippina ' and those I 
have mentioned above, we see how deeply impressed his mind had 
become with the ideals of current Romantic poetry ; the true 
BjTonic disgust with himself and vague emotions of the infinite, 
the desire to 

' steal 
From all I may be, or have been before, 
To mingle with the universe, and feel 
What I can ne'er express.' 

There is no doubt that these obscure emotions and vague 
reveries can only be adequately expressed in one particular way. 
They defy embodiment in clear-cut determinate forms. They 
demand a style as indeterminate, as vaguely suggestive, as in- 
articulate as the loose -knit dreams which are calling for 

This, then, I take to be the proper explanation of the vague- 
ness of Turner's later manner : It is not that he saw the world 
indistinctly, but that his ideas were incapable of definition; it 
is not that his eyes were newly opened to the vapours and 
mists of the physical world, but that his own thoughts were 
confused and his emotions, in spite of their strength, were in- 
coherent and inarticulate. 

We are now in a position to define the relation in which 
Turner's later works stand to modern Impressionism. The exact 
connotation of this term is not by any means easy to grasp, but so 
far as Impressionism has distinctive aims I think we are justified 
in describing them as the attempt to eliminate all those elements 



in art which are due to the reaction of the inteUigent self upon the 
immediate data of sense-perception. The aim of Impressionism 
is to get rid of what one eminent psychologist has called the 
noetic fringe in a state of consciousness, to abstract from memory 
and see objects as simple visual elements. The Impressionist 
wishes to see objects as though he was looking at them for the 
first time, as though they had no meaning for him. The theoretic 
justification of this procedure is that, in stripping off the formative 
and organising action of intelligence we isolate the pure element 
of objective reality ; that pictures painted upon this principle give 
the real truth of nature and are free from all those errors and 
distortions which the action of thought is supposed to introduce 
into the irrefragably trustworthy elements of the given. These 
assumptions are, I need hardly add, untenable, but this is not the 
place to criticise them. 

Now if Impressionism aims at getting rid of all the cognitive 
elements in concrete perception (recognition, classing, naming, 
etc.) as well as the later processes of interpretation and associative 
reflection, and would express only the bare sensational element of 
impression, it is clear that Turner cannot be properly described 
as an Impressionist. Turner's artistic aim was consistently 
lyrical, i.e. strongly subjective and emotional, while the chief aim 
of Impressionism is to eliminate all the merely subjective colour- 
ing from perception, with the single purpose of isolating and 
reproducing what is regarded as the objective element. So far, 
then, as Impressionism has adopted Turner's results, it seems 
open to the charge of having done so without understanding their 
real nature or significance. 

Yet this result, however helpful it may prove to the student of 
present-day art, cannot be wholly satisfactory from another point 
of view. From the point of view of Turner's work our result 
is largely negative. We have endeavoured to make it clear that 
to regard his later work as a new and triumphant attempt to 
represent Avhat is called the ' truths of nature ' is pure misunder- 
standing ; that Turner's aim is not to represent either truths 
of atmosphere, of lighting or of natural colour, or any kind or 
class of physical fact ; that he is busied mainly with his own 
emotions and fancies, and that he is concerned with the objective 








world only indirectly and only in so far as it furnishes or suggests 
the stuff out of which his pictorial symbols are wov^en. But we 
have still to search for the secret power of attraction which these 
symbols do unquestionably possess. Why is it, we must ask, that 
these signs and symbols have such power to move men, to delight 
and intoxicate some, to soothe and cheer others ? 

The answers to these questions may be conveniently grouped 
under two heads. In the first place we may consider what are the 
attractions which Turner's work shares with the Romantic poets 
whose works express the same kind of subject-matter, and in the 
second place we may attempt to indicate what are the qualities 
which are more intimately connected with his own individuahty. 

In the first place then, when we consider Turner as a fellow- 
worker with Byron, Shelley, and Lamartine, we see that like 
them he appeals constantly and unerringly to that illusion of 
the romantic temperament Avhich lends a mysterious charm to 
aU that is indefinite and indefinable. In a singularly acute 
analysis of this temperament Mr. George Santayana has traced 
one of the chief causes of the delight which this kind of art and 
poetry awakens to what he calls ' the illusion of infinite perfec- 
tion.' There is, he says, a loose and helpless state of mind to 
which we all of us approximate when in a state of fatigue. In 
this state of mind we are not capable of concentrated and serious 
attention to one thing at a time, so we are apt to ' flounder in 
the vague, but at the same time we are full of yearnings, of half- 
thoughts and semi-visions, and the upward tendency and exalta- 
tion of our mood is emphatic and overpowering in proportion 
to our incapacity to think, speak, or imagine. The sum of 
our incoherencies has, however, an imposing volume and even, 
perhaps, a vague, general direction. We feel ourselves laden 
with an infinite burden ; and what delights us most and seems 
to us to come nearest to the ideal, is not what embodies any one 
possible form, but that which, by embodying none, suggests 
many, and stirs the mass of our inarticulate imagination with 
a pervasive thrill. . . . That infinite perfection which cannot 
be realised, because it is self-contradictory, may be thus 
suggested, and on account of this suggestion an indeterminate 
effect may be regarded as higher, more significant, and more 



beautiful than any determinate one.' ^ These remarks help us 
to understand the positive qualities of Turner's indeterminate 
style ; its power of evoking a fallacious sense of profundity and 
significance, just because of its indeterminateness, its power of 
suggesting and stimulating emotion, just because it is inco- 
herent and variously interpretable. 

Yet when we have pressed these considerations to their 
extreme limit, we have only drawn attention to certain qualities 
which Turner's later work shares with that of many indifferent 
artists and poets, and, far from exhausting the real and permanent 
elements of value in that work, they may be justly regarded as 
a searching and pitiless exposure of its weaknesses and defects. 
But we are on firmer ground when we turn to the purely personal 
qualities in this work, to the artist's delicacy of hand and fineness 
of sight. It matters not what instrument Turner is working 
with, whether with the pencil, the pen, or the brush, or whether 
he is working hurriedly or at leisure, the movement of his hand 
is always graceful and delightful. His powers of sight also 
seem to me to have been quite extraordinary ; I do not mean 
that he had merely the power of seeing distant objects distinctly, 
not mere long-sightedness, though he seems to have had this 
faculty in an abundant measure, but a quite unusual power of 
discriininating beween minute shades of light and colour. As 
the born musician is distinguished from other men by his capacity 
for detecting differences of sound which to others seem the same, 
so the evidence of Turner's work — and all who have attempted 
to copy even the slightest of his sketches will, I am sure, bear 
me out in this — shows that he possessed an abnormal power of 
visual discrimination. No doubt his early training and especially 
the influence of Dayes had something to do with the development 
of this capacity, but the capacity itself was largely innate. In 
addition to these two natural gifts, an abnormal dehcacy of 
hand and eye. Turner had the priceless advantage of being 
passionately and unfalteringly in love with his art. Some of the 
greatest artists give me the impression of loving their art less for 
its own sake than for the sake of the content which it enables 

1 The Sense of Beauty, by George Santayana. A. <.t C. Black, 1896, p. 149. 


them to express, — Rembrandt and Jean Francois Millet, for 
example, give me this impression, and I do not think that their 
greatness is imperilled in the least by it — but Turner seems to 
me to have loved his art, especially in his later years, entirely for 
its own sake. This strong and deep affection threw a glamour 
over every detail of his work. Nothing was too high or too low 
for him. He brought the same inexhaustible patience and alertness 
of attention to the working out of a complicated problem of per- 
spective as to the finishing of his most ambitious pictures. Like 
Wordsworth's ' happy warrior ' in the midst of danger, he had 
only to take a pencil into his hand to become ' attired with 
sudden brightness, like a Man inspired.' This concentration, this 
master-bias, throws a fervour and an inimitable charm over what 
it seems almost ironical to speak of as the mechanical execution 
of his works. 

It is difficult to define the exact relationship of Turner's love 
for his art, with his passionate and unwearying study of natural 
phenomena. My own impression is that his love of nature was 
at best to some extent subordinate to his love of art ; that he 
loved nature partly at least as a means to artistic expression, and 
not altogether for itself But however this may be, the extent 
of his knowledge of, and intimate familiarity with, nature's ways 
counts for much in the attractions of his pictures. The evidence 
of his keen though intermittent study of natural phenomena is 
writ large in the collection of his sketch-books. The very extent 
of his knowledge, no doubt, led at times to a certain overcrowding 
of his works, but it forms the secret of his supple and ample style, 
and the inexhaustible fecundity of his invention. 

It is then to the magic of his style that Turner's later works 
owe a great deal of their strange power of compelling attention 
and extorting a sometimes unwilling admiration. He had in a 
quite pre-eminent degree what Reynolds has called the genius of 
mechanical execution. And this power is as remarkable in his 
earlier works as in his later. But in his earlier works this power 
was used to give definite embodiment to a range of worthy and 
significant ideas and emotions, and the sheer beauty of their 
content is apt to divert our attention from the consummate skill 
implied in this rarest and highest artistic achievement. But in 



the later Avork the very weakness and poverty of the content has 
the effect of keeping our attention fixed upon the suggestiveness 
and visual beauty of the material elements of expression. In the 
poetry of the French Symbolists we see a somewhat similar effect 
consciously aimed at. The poverty of thought is used as a foil 
to throw the greatest possible emphasis on the beauty of sounds 
and the faint suggestions of individual words. In this way the 
attenuation of significance in Turner's later works throws into 
startling prominence all the innate and intrinsic splendours of the 
painter's palette. 

We shall have occasion to amplify and illustrate these 
observations as we trace the gradual development of Turner's 
later manner, the task to which we have now to address ourselves. 

I have alluded above to what I regard as the first oil painting 
in which the change that took place in Turner's artistic aims 
about the year 1830 was clearly indicated. This was the ' Calais 
Sands, low water,' exhibited at the Royal Academy in May, 1830. 
But before painting this picture Turner had been experimenting 
in his new manner in a series of water-colour sketches. These 
sketches were made at Petworth, where Turner went to stay for 
a few weeks with Lord Egremont, probably in 1829, after his 
return from his second journey to Italy. 

The two oil paintings of Petworth Park, still in the Petworth 
collection, as well as the brilliant unfinished sketch of ' Petworth 
Park ' in the National Gallery (No. 559), were probably painted 
in the house during this visit ; at any rate, the sketches in water- 
colour upon which these canvases were based were made at this 
time. But when Turner was not busy at his easel or sketching 
in the park and neighbourhood, he seems to have felt the time 
hang heavily on his hands, so, to save himself from the ennui of 
small-talk and idleness, he began making colour sketches, first of 
the various rooms, then of the furniture and bric-a-brac, and 
finally of the people staying in the house. These sketches, which 
number about a hundred, indicate clearly a distinct change in 
Turner's outlook upon nature. Up to this time he had invariably 
employed form as the basis of his work. In these studies we see 
him turning his attention directly to colour as the chief element 

PLA rp. I.XXi- 


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of representation. The difference is no doubt largely a matter of 
degree, for both elements are indispensable. Yet we have only 
to compare , say, a drawing like that of ' Rochester,' in the Rivers 
of England series, with any one of the Rive7's of France sub- 
jects to see that the change of emphasis, upon colour instead 
of form, was fraught with important technical results. From a 
psychological point of view the change is also significant. It 
shows that Turner was dissatisfied with the language of form, 
which had served him so well all his life ; the vague unrest 
and conflicting emotions which now surged in his bosom 
demanded a less static, a more fluent and elusive medium of 

Let us examine one of these Petworth subjects, a sketch of 
people ' Waiting for Dinner.' The scene takes place in a large 
drawing-room. The fireplace comes in the centre of the design, 
and before it a corpulent and dignified figure in evening dress 
stands facing us. On either side there are groups of figures, also 
in evening dress, the white of the ladies' muslin frocks relieved 
Vidth the yellow and black of an effulgent matron and the black 
suits and scarlet uniforms of the men. Examined in detail, the 
drawing of the figures is childish, but viewed at a proper distance, 
so that the eye can range freely over it all without bringing any 
one point into sharp focus, the effect is extraordinary. It is like 
catching a glimpse of the actual scene. The whole goes together, 
the room is filled with atmosphere, the sharp staccato touches 
sprinkled with such amazing cunning among the floating wreaths 
of colour give exactly that sense of relief which the eye experi- 
ences as it wanders over an actual scene, — the sense of angles and 
sharp points of resistance which artists speak of as the ' lost and 
found ' of nature. The very slightness of the execution of the 
drawing and the reckless carelessness of the handling add to the 
feeling of immediate contact with reality, for the lack of definition 
is indissolubly associated in our minds with the experience of 
movement and change, and the figures whose precise forms elude 
us seem only to be moving before our eyes. Yet this effect would 
certainly not be produced were it not for the wonderful accvu-acy 
and subtlety with which the relative values of the masses of tone 
have been observed, — the relation, for instance, between the exact 



shade of grey of the shirt-front of the noble lord with his back to 
the fire and the exact tint of the firelight itself seen through his 
legs, or, in short, between every touch of colour and the whole 
which they constitute. 

Yet when we compare this drawing with any of the more 
elaborately worked ones, we cannot but realise the enormous 
importance of slightness of definition as a means of expression. 
In the ' Spinnet Player,' for example, we find the same skill in 
the observation and rendering of tones as in ' Waiting for Dinner,' 
and the same extraordinary science of colour declension ; yet the 
effect it produces is one of static unreality. 

In this drawing a lady dressed in blue is seated in the fore- 
ground at a spinnet ; on the left, there is another lady in white on 
a couch, and on the right, in the middle distance, a group of figures 
are seated round a table apparently playing cards, while a figure 
in a light-coloured dress stands behind the chair of one of the 
players. The objects on the wall of the room, the near furniture 
and figures are all considerably more defined than any of the 
objects in ' Waiting for Dinner,' but the definition of these parts 
sets up a standard which condemns the drawing as a whole. We 
feel disappointed, after getting so much definition, that we do not 
get more. The middle-distance figures are so well drawn, or 
rather are so vivaciously observed and full of individuality, that we 
cannot help complaining that the foreground lady's neck and 
shoulders are impossible, and that the lady on the couch is so 
much like a wooden doll. These observations suggest that each 
drawing sets up its own standard of definition. The comparative 
failure of such a draAving could not but help to impress on Turner 
the immense value for his purposes of a wise and consistent 
vagueness of statement. 

In the vignettes made to illustrate the works of Rogers, Scott, 
Byi'on and Campbell we see the lesson of the Petworth experi- 
ments driven home. Though these drawuigs were made expressly 
with the object of being engraved in black and white, they are 
conceived entirely upon a colour basis, while their lack of 
definition must have made quite unwarrantable demands upon 
the skill and resources of the engravers. But it is evident that 
Turner had now firmly gi-asped the fact that the glamour and 

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intoxication of colour had become the dominant and essential 
factor La his art, and that the vagueness of his ideas could only be 
adequately expressed by allusion and suggestion. These vignettes 
and the engravings made from them vary widely in value. One 
or two of them are worthy of the artist, for example the ' Datur 
hora quieti,' 'The Alps at Daybreak' and the 'Melrose,' but for 
the most part they owe the very great popular success they have 
enjoyed to the skill with which the artist has entered into the 
spirit of the second- and third-rate poetry he was called upon to 
illustrate, and to the admirable way in which his suggestions were 

The designs for the Rivers of France are conceived in a 
somewhat similar strain of lyrical abandonment to the sensuous 
charm of colour. Translated into mere black and white they leave 
us but half convinced. It is rather like a prose translation into a 
foreign language of the poetry of Victor Hugo, Swinburne or 
Shelley. To feel their full effect we must turn to the original 
water-colours, with all their ravishing intoxication of colour. It is 
as though our reason must needs be lulled asleep by the dominant 
flood of purely sensuous delight, before we can feel about these 
drawings as the artist would have us feel. 

We have seen, in the case of the ' Stamford ' design in the 
England and Wales series, that Turner's interest in a place was 
specifically different from that of a resident or an historian. He 
cares httle or nothing for local facts, merely as facts ; his main 
concern is to skim off from the surface of observation a few telling 
points, a few heads of discoui'se as we might call them, which 
serve as a point of departure to his own abundant pictorial im- 
provisation. The result may be more or less like the locality 
which furnishes the title of the drawing, but it is never in any 
strict sense of the word an accurate representation of the place. 
Yet the gulf that yawns between local fact and Turner's lyrical 
inspiration is never of quite the same character in the English 
drawings as in the French. In both the gulf is wide, but in the 
Enghsh subjects the artist's intimate knowledge of the general 
characteristics of the scenery gives such an air of plausibility to 
his improvisations that one might be tempted to explain his 
poetical licences as the result of an ardent striving after general 

T.S.-9 J29 


and specific truth.^ With the French drawings it is impossible to 
make such a mistake. Turner was not at all intimate with 
French scenery. He got up the subject in a most perfunctory 
manner in a few short and hurried tours. He merely paid a flying 
visit to the chief places mentioned in his guide-book and, instead 
of studying what he saw with a moderate degree of attention, was 
quite satisfied to look for mere hints of Turnerian phantasies ; he 
did not want facts, but suggestions for pictorial inventions. So 
that in spite of his v^oluminous note-taking we find scarcely an 
accurate detail in the whole of the sixty engravings. The twin 
towers of Tancarville Castle are certainly the result of a misunder- 
standing of the hurried sketch made on the spot, and I have no 
doubt that the ' errors ' and ' inaccuracies ' so relentlessly ferreted 
out by Mr. Hamerton, in the representations of the Castle of 
Amboise, the towers of Notre Dame and St. Jacques de la 
Boucherie, the old Hotel de Ville and the Pump, were caused in 
the same way. From the point of view of the topographer there 
can be no doubt that Hamerton's statement ^ that the engravings 
of this series contain only ' a sort of muddled reminiscence ' of the 
objects and places Turner had seen is in the main correct. 

The object of these remarks is far from that of suggesting that 
the presence of ' errors ' and ' inaccuracies ' of this kind interferes 
in any way with the purely artistic value of these drawings. It is 
rather to emphasise the fact that it is only when we judge them 
from a totally irrelevant point of view, that we can begin to talk of 
errors and inaccuracies. Rightly understood these so-called errors 
and inaccuracies are not only the justifiable licences of the artist, 
but the absolutely inevitable and proper and solely right means of 
expression which the artist had at his disposal. His aim is to 
produce a state of consciousness in which feeling looms large, and 
thought-determination is reduced almost to the vanishing point. 
One might say, without exaggeration or unfairness, that mental 
confusion formed an important part of his artistic aim. He had 
then to represent the objects he depicted not as they appear to a 
cool, level-headed, and accurate observer, but as they appear to a 
highly sensitive subject in a state of morbid excitement. 

1 This, I need hardly add, is Mr. Ruskin's explanation. 
^ Hamerton's Turner, p. 244. 


If we look at Turner's French drawings from this point of 
view, we cannot but admit that they are almost all highly suc- 
cessful. They are stamped with the impress of the genuinely 
romantic fervour, the lyrical movement of unbridled feehng. In 
them the joy of artistic creation has become triumphant, almost 
insolent. They are deep drauglits of artistic intoxication, 
exultant with the rush of man's undying passion for pleasure, 
and of the resistless energy that moulds the world of matter into 
forms more harmonious with our own distinctly human cravings 
and aspirations ; Chateaux Gaillards or ' Saucy Castles ' of the 
imagination one might almost call them. 

It was characteristic of Turner — I might almost say it was a 
necessity of his position as a landscape painter— that he felt com- 
pelled to search far and wide for material out of which to spin his 
web of visible phantasy. The need of novel shapes, glowing 
colours, striking and elaborate combinations was constantly felt. 
The rivers Meuse, Moselle and Rhine were diligently and re- 
peatedly explored. The East — for his Bible illustrations — he 
was content to take at second-hand, through the medium of 
other men's sketches, but he sailed down the Danube, as far as 
Vienna (or Buda-Pesth perhaps ?), ransacked Germany, Italy, 
Switzerland, France, Holland and Belgium and part of Austria. 
But as the years moved on, his mental grip of the real world 
became always looser. His mind played only with the fugitive 
shades on the surface of appearances ; but not with the elasticity, 
the free disinterestedness of youth and of the young-hearted. 
The professional bias became ever more pronounced, the point 
of view ever more abstract and one-sided. 

One of his richest mines of pictorial imagery was Venice ; 
not so much the actual city of the Adriatic, as the fragmentary 
ideas of an ideal Venice as they floated in the imagination of the 
ordinary Englishman, — the unconscious crystallisation of the 
desires of the average middle-class tourist for Southern warmth, 
freedom, colour, variety, and bodily pleasure. With all the un- 
canny certainty of genius he gathered up the threads of these 
incoherent and fugitive desires and fixed them in the forms of 

Let us look carefully at the two Venetian sketches here repro- 



duced. In ' Shipping on the Riva degli Schiavone ' (No. 55, 
N.G.) we see the Campanile and Ducal Palace on the right, a 
blaze of warm, palpitating light. In the centre there is a stretch 
of limpid green water, with a tangle of boats on it leading the 
eye to the opalescent Madonna della Salute in the extreme dis- 
tance. There is a secondary group of shipping on the left, among 
whose masts the tower of San Giorgio Maggiore can be seen. 
No words can describe the intense blaze of light, the brilliance 
of the colours and their perfect harmony. The execution is 
breathlessly hurried and seemingly reckless, yet always perfectly 
under control ; the artist's hand is so audaciously swift because 
the full value of his colours can only be got in this way. Human 
skill can go no further in this direction, and no reproduction can 
do anything like justice to the wonderful original. 

We find the same qualities in ' The Approach to Venice : 
Sunset' (51, N.G.), and 'Riva degli Schiavone, from near the 
Public Gardens ' (56, N.G.). 

In all these drawings Turner seems to be playing with his 
material medium, fondling and caressing his colours and the 
intrinsic beauties of water-colour. Yet it is not mere colour 
as colour that he gives us, not the cheap and arbitrary and 
mechanical splendour of merely decorative art. The colour is 
delicate and subtle, full of surprises, and as varied as nature 
herself; it is controlled and marshalled by the authority of the tone 
scheme ; it is nature grasped by human intelligence, and made 
obedient to its organising power. And a large part of the 
attractiveness of these drawings is due to the ease and grace with 
which the reign of purpose and intelligence is maintained. 

After all it is the marvellous technical skill which they display 
which is the essence of the charm of these works. The subject- 
matter counts for less than the execution, the objects portrayed 
are less eloquent than the sense of freedom, mastery and real 
happiness evident in the artist's work. He wanted nothing 
beyond this ; the work to him was not a symbol of something 
higher, — it did not point beyond itself. It was at once means 
and end, process and fulfilment, work and reward, the toil of life 
and its consummated bliss. 

The intrinsic poverty of the subject-matter no doubt serves to 





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intensify what I may call the material beauty of the workmanship. 
Yet we must beware of ranking this subject-matter too low. It 
is not mere sensuous feeling, it is not entirely devoid of the 
element of thought. The conscious action of thought is probably 
entirely absent. The scenes float before us in all the bareness of 
immediate sensation. They give us nothing more than a moment 
of immediate experience caught, as it were, on the wing, and pinned 
down all quivering with life. But the momentary experience is 
that of a man whose visual sensations have been organised by a 
life-time of strenuous intellectual control. The brain and the 
senses are but the organs of one function. There is not a single 
definite thought present, the artist has sunk himself in the flow 
of the merely animal life, yet his naked sentience is conditioned 
through and through and characterised by the pervasive activity 
of the mind. 

To transfix a fleeting moment of immediate living experience 
is a very different thing from the deliberate analysis of the process 
of perception and the wilful abstraction of one of its elements. 
In other words, this work of Turner is essentially different in kind 
from the work of the modern Impressionists. The Impressionist 
adopts the methods of science. He operates on his perceptions, 
and cuts away this element and that, and in the end presents you 
with a dead and potted psychological abstraction, a diagram of 
the ' pure ' visual sensation, which delights us with its ingenuity 
and neatness, but which no one would take for a fragment of the 
living flow of thought and emotion which all concrete experience 
is. Impressionism is cold and heartless ; it is merely intellectual 
and ratiocinative, and therefore essentially inartistic. But the 
so-called impressionistic work of Turner, in spite of its other 
defects and shortcomings, remains ever in the flood of concrete 
living experience. It is never abstract ; it never loses its emotional 
contagion, though its emotional suggestiveness is somewhat vague 
and indefinite. Its power of evoking emotion is very strongly 
pronounced, but the emotions it calls up are sadly lacking in 
definition, and seem to lie very much at the mercy of chance 

The cause of this vagueness and emptiness is no doubt 
closely connected with Turner's triumphant grasp of the fleeting 



momentary experience. His work is almost, though not quite, as 
empty and indeterminate as an isolated fragment of immediate 
sensation. A single steady look by a cool observer would grasp 
more of the character of a given scene than we find in these 
sketches. But the time occupied in a steady look at a scene is 
too long for Turner ; though the look should last but half a 
minute the mind has time to grasp and organise the sensuous 
data. Turner's object is to catch these data of sense in their least 
organised condition. To do this, he must reduce the time of 
contact between the scene and his senses to its shortest possible 
extent. Some of the later Impressionists have found that merely 
to open and shut the eyes gives their senses and intelligence too 
long an exposure ; they have therefore devised a mechanical 
instrument which they hold in front of their eyes, and which 
operates very much like a shutter used for taking instantaneous 
photographs. In this way they obtain a glimpse of a scene of 
shorter duration than the most rapid opening and shutting of the 
eyes can give. We have no reason for suspecting that Turner had 
recourse to any such mechanical aids, but he achieved similar 
results. He gives us the momentary bedazzlement of the sunlight, 
and, within this impression, a confused and fragmentary perception 
of objects. The objects seen are hardly recognisable, their attri- 
butes are reduced to a minimum, and the blur of living emotion 
which forms part of such rudimentary perception is reduced to 
its lowest terms. The control such sketches exercise over the 
thoughts and feelings of the spectator is therefore small and 
possesses very little individuality. 

But even Venice soon palled upon Turner's imagination. He 
seemed desirous of getting away as far as possible from the dis- 
turbing influences of human association. Only among the lonely 
valleys and mountain tops of Switzerland could his perturbed 
and wearied spirit find something like the peace he sought so 
feverishly. Even here he shrank from the common light of 
ordinary day. He loved the solemn stillness of night, and would 
wait to surprise the first rosy hues of dawn upon Mount Pilatus 
or the Rigi. His sympathies are all with the silent and primary 
things of nature. 

It is as though he were seeking to strip himself of the attri- 


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butes of humanity, to sink into the unconscious vegetative 
hfe of nature. Even when roused to activity his mind seems 
curiously dehumanised. When he draws for us the towers and 
churches of a place like Freiburg we seem to be looking at the 
work of a disembodied spirit. The city is divested of all its 
human associations. His eye seems now to classify and arrange 
what it sees in terms of space and motion, much as we should 
imagine an eagle to look down upon the welter and turmoil of 
our lives. I get the same impression from the ' Village and Castle 
on the Rhine ' (82, N.G.), and ' The Via Mala ' (73, N.G.). 

In all this, in this gradual impoverishment of mind and feel- 
ing, it is difficult to discover anything more than the silent and 
inevitable ravages of old age. But it is not their poverty of 
content that makes these later drawings of Turner so remarkable. 
It is the virile and glorious artistic skill which only flames the 
brighter amid the decay of all Turner's other faculties. The 
man was dead before the incomparable master of tone and colour 
was exhausted. It is this curious combination of an unexhausted 
special aptitude with a moribund mentality that gives this later 
work of Turner its uniqueness, its lurid and uncanny fascination. 
In the whole history of pictorial art we have never had before 
quite the same display of senile apathy gilded and transfigured 
by the dying shafts of an incommensurable natural capacity. 

By the time Turner was seventy years of age his bodily 
infirmities prevented him from visiting Switzerland. For a year 
or two we find him haunting the coast of Normandy, about 
Dieppe, Eu and Ambleteuse. Then he is unable to cross the 
Channel. For a short season he flits about Sussex and Kent — 
at Folkestone, Margate, Deal, and Sandwich — and then there is 




The distinction between Art Criticism and Aesthetic— The aim of this 
chapter — Art and ph3'sical fact — The ' common-sense ' conception of 
landscape art as evidence of fact — The relation of Art and Nature — Mr. 
Ruskin's treatment of this subject — He distinguishes (a) physical fact and 
(b) the artist's thoughts and feelings about these facts, yet maintains that 
the representation of (a) is equivalent to the expression of (b) — His 
confusion of Nature and Mind exemplified in his remarks on the ' Pass of 
Faido' — Art as the organ of Beauty implies that the dualism of Nature 
and Mind is transcended — Nature is neither given nor immediate — Art 
therefore cannot copy nature — What does art represent? — An individualised 
psychical content present to the mind of the artist — Classification of 
Turner's sketches and studies from the point of view of their logical 
content — The difference between (1) Studies of particular objects, (2) 
Drawings from nature, and (3) Works of art proper — The logical reference 
of a work of art — The assertions in a work of art do not directly qualify 
the ordinary world of reality, but an imaginary world special!}' constructed 
for the artist's purpose — The ideal of complete definition — Yet the content 
must determine the form — Plea for a dynamic or physiological study of 
artistic forms. 

WE have been engaged thus far upon a genuinely inductive 
investigation, upon a voyage of discovery, and not upon 
a dogmatic exposition of ultimate aesthetic principles. 
Our general aim has been to study the processes of artistic 
expression, but to study them as Ave find them in definite concrete 
instances. Moreover, the nature of our subject-matter rendered 
it necessary to keep faithful to the point of view of art criticism. 
We were dealing with particular works of art, and to leave them 
while we plunged into general questions of aesthetic would hardly 
have been polite. But, as I have ventured to observe before, 
though art criticism and general aesthetic can be distinguished 
they cannot be rigidly separated. Aesthetic without close con- 


versance with the concrete subject-matter of art criticism is 
necessarily loose and empty, while art criticism without a firm 
grasp of the broad principles of beauty easily degenerates into 
casuistry or a useless and rather despicable form of self-assertion. 
And however much we try to keep questions of principle apart 
from our estimation and study of particular works of art, we are 
bound inevitably to fail. We can begin as it were at either end 
of the scale, we can busy ourselves with the one or with the many, 
but before we have gone very far we are bound to realise that we 
are concerned with exactly the same problems. The distinction 
of art criticism from aesthetic is merely one of convenience and 

In all that has gone before we have been concerned with the 
fundamental problems of aesthetic, though we have not treated 
them directly. In all that we have written a more or less definite 
and consistent answer to these problems has been implied. In 
this final chapter, therefore, I propose to draw out as well as I 
can some of the more general results of our observations and 
analyses, or rather to endeavour to state in a more general form 
the laws of artistic expression and action which we have dis- 
covered. The ultimate aim of art criticism, as I understand it, 
is to grasp and render intelligible the whole region of artistic 
activity, and I cannot but think that it will facilitate our grasp of 
the wider laws of artistic phenomena, as well as help to consolidate 
or disprove the results of our detailed observations, if I make an 
attempt to render explicit what has only been implied in our 
remarks upon particular concrete instances. 

I will begin by calling attention to a fact that has been 
repeatedly forced upon our notice. Though our attention has been 
mainly fixed upon Turner's studies and sketches from nature, we 
have never come into direct contact with the plain physical reality 
which, according to the invariable usage of common-sense, it is 
the mission of art to represent. Common-sense tells us that the 
' subject ' of every landscape painting is a group of physical 
realities — the fields, rivers, mountains, trees, houses, etc., in such 
and such a place, together with their invariable physical accom- 
paniments, the air and any particular effect of light and weather 
that the artist may choose to select. Our analysis has invariably 



shown us that the slightest sketch — much more then a fully 
organised work of art ! — is something more than and something 
radically different from a mere representation of such physical 
constituents. The physical objects are indeed portrayed, but when 
we have recognised this touch of colour or that shape as the 
representation of this or that natural fact, we have not exhausted 
the meaning of the artist's work. This recognition is nothing 
more than what I may call the plain dictionary meaning of the 
words the artist has chosen to employ. It is not till we have 
gone on to grasp the special significance of the order in which 
these elements have been grouped, that we really begin to come 
into contact with the work of art itself As we cannot interpret 
the meaning of the simplest sentence unless we give due weight 
to its grammatical construction, so with a picture we must take 
into consideration what I can only caU the grammatical con- 
struction and distuactions proper to pictorial expression. When 
we penetrate in this way to the real significance of any of Turnei*'s 
works we find we have been brought into contact with the artist's 
thoughts and emotions. We start, as it were, with trees and rocks 
and physical details, which, as such, are independent of man and 
indifferent if not actually hostile to human hopes and fears, joys 
and sorrows ; and we end by finding that our so-called physical 
facts are but elements in a definitely organised whole of thought 
and feeling. We seem to start with natural facts, and they change 
under our hands into the symbols of mere ideas and emotions. 

Our whole conception of the scope and possibilities of art turns 
upon the view we take of the artist's means of expression. Are we 
to regard pictorial art as a medium for imaging and recording the 
visible facts of the physical world, or as symbols of states of 
consciousness ? And if we take the latter view, what is the exact 
relation of these symbols to the visible world, to the world of 
common perception ? 

So far as I know, only one English art critic has attempted 
anything like an adequate discussion of these questions. It will 
help us, I think, if we glance for a moment at JNlr. Ruskin's treat- 
ment of these subjects. In the first volume of Modern Painters 
we are told that the two great ends of landscape painting are 
(1) to induce in the spectator's mind the faithful conception of 


any natural object whatsoever, and (2) to inform him of the 
thoughts and feelings with which these ' {i.e. the natural objects) 
'were regarded by the artist himself {Modern Painters, Part ii., 
Sec. 1, Ch. i. p. 44). 

In attaining the first end, Mr. Ruskin adds, ' the painter only 
places the spectator where he stands himself; he sets him before 
the landscape and leaves him. , . . But he [the spectator] has 
nothing of thought given to him, no new ideas, no unknown 
feelings, forced on his attention or his heart.' 

' But in attaining the second end, the artist not only places the 
spectator, but — makes him a sharer in his own strong feelings and 
quick thoughts ; — and leaves him . . . ennobled and instructed, 
mider the sense of having not only beheld a new scene, but of 
having held communion with a new mind, and having been en- 
dowed for a time with the keen perception and the impetuous 
emotions of a nobler and more penetrating intelligence.' 

It may seem at first sight that Rlr. Ruskin is simply distinguish- 
ing two kinds of landscape painting, such as the simply topo- 
graphical from the more imaginative kind. And lie does say that 
'it is possible to reach what I have stated to be the first end of art, 
the representation of facts, without reaching the second, the re- 
presentation of thoughts.' But the point he is chiefly concerned 
to emphasise is the complete dependence of the second of these 
aims upon the representation of facts. An artist can give us 
physical facts, he says, without expressing his thoughts and feel- 
ings, but no artist can express thoughts and feelings without the 
accurate representation of facts. This is the point, he says, that he 
wishes at present ' especially to insist upon,' and this dependence of 
thought upon fact, or ' truth ' as he generally prefers to call it, 
forms, as I understand it, the theoretical basis upon which a large 
part of Mr. Ruskin's art teaching rests. 

All great art, he admits, gives us ' the thoughts and feelings of 
the artist,' but we have no standard by which Me can test the 
value of mere thoughts and feelings ; but as there is a ' constant 
relation ' between an artist's thoughts and feelings and his ' faith- 
fulness in representing nature,' we have only to examine ' the 
botanical or geological details ' in a landscape to ' form a right 
estimate as to the respective powers and attainments ' of the artist. 



It is from this point of view that he calls ' the representation of 
facts ' 'the foundation of all art,' and in the preface to The Elements 
of Drawing, the power ' to copy ' natural objects ' faithfully, and 
without alteration,' is treated as equivalent to the power ' of 
pictorial expression of thought.' 

Now there is a point of view from which these statements 
could be defended, and I will endeavour a little later to indicate 
that point of view, but as INIr. Ruskin expresses and applies these 
ideas, I think they lead to confusion. Much of the welter of con- 
fusion into which the reader of 3Iodern Painters finds himself 
plunged seems to me caused by the author's persistent refusal to 
discriminate between physical reality and mind, between external 
nature and ideas. The mountains, trees, and clouds become human 
thoughts and feelings, not in a metaphysical sense, but as a matter 
of ordinary observation, and the artist is bidden to go out into the 
fields and draw, with the patience and precision of a geologist or 
land-surveyor, the visible shapes and hues of these materialised 
emotions and ideas. 

Yet Mr. Ruskin is far too fearless and candid a thinker to 
attempt deliberately to falsify his evidence. He admits, when the 
point presents itself to him, that Turner ' never draws accin-ately 
on the spot ' ; and in the wonderful analysis of Turner's 'Pass of 
Fai'do,' in the fourth volume of Modern Painters, we are clearly 
shown that the artist's representation contains hardly a single 
accurate and faithful statement of the physical features of the 
place. Yet we are assured that in some inexplicable way the 
picture is truer to the facts of the place than the place itself. 

The artist, we are told, made 'a few pencil scratches on a 
bit of thin paper ' during a momentary stoppage of the diligence 
in the pass. Afterwards he put a few blots of colour to these 
pencil scratches, possibly ' at Bellinzona the same evening ' but 
' certainly not upon the spot.' In the course of a few months he 
showed this sketch to Mr. Ruskin, who commissioned the artist 
to make a finished water-colour from it. (The sketch is repro- 
duced as the frontispiece of the present volume, so the curious 
reader may compare it at his leisure with the reproduction of 
the completed drawing and JNIr. Ruskin's topographical drawing 
made on the spot in Modern Painters.) 


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The first sketch is certainly sufficiently inaccurate as a repre- 
sentation of the physical facts of the scene, but in the finished 
drawing Turner permitted himself further liberties. In it ' the 
whole place is altered in scale.' The rocks on the left which should 
be four or five hundred feet high are made to look ' about a thou- 
sand feet.' ' Next, he raises, in a still greater degree, all the 
mountains beyond, putting three or four ranges instead of one.' 
In this way all the parts of the scene are modified, important 
features are eliminated at will, and facts that the artist had seen 
elsewhere are freely introduced. This is what we find Mr. Ruskin 
means when he talks about receiving ' a true impression from the 
place itself, and the accurate and faithful representation of physical 
facts ' {3Iodern Painters, vol iv. p. 21.) 

Now I am far from denying that Turner's procedure was 
thoroughly justified, but from the ordinary standpoint of common- 
sense it does stand in need of justification, and it seems to me that 
it is not a proper way to justify it by passionately declaring that 
the imaginative vision of the artist does indeed give us ' the real 
facts of the world's outside aspect,' or a faithful and unaltered copy 
of a portion of physical reality. Indeed I feel very strongly that 
this playing fast and loose with Nature and Mind (with physical 
fact and mental interpretation) is no gain to the cause Mr. Ruskin 
has at heart. In spite of all his passionate eloquence and trans- 
parent earnestness and good faith, the ordinary reader continues 
to regard nature as the hypostatised world of the physical sciences 
and as that part of the world which falls outside of mind. And 
when we regard nature in this way as a mechanical and external 
system, and declare that it is ' God's work,' we can go on, as Mr. 
Ruskin does, to attack ' idealisation,' and heap contumely on such 
painters as Claude and Poussin, for daring to modify God's works 
and for casting the shadow of their puny selves on the works of 
their Creator {Modern Painters, vol. i. Preface to second ed. p. 
xxvi.). But if we do this we must at least go on to admit that Turner 
and all the other great artists sinned in exactly the same way. 

There is only one way, I am convinced, of working our way to 
a firmer and more consistent point of view, and that is to get 
above this naive dualism of human and physical nature. I may 
even say that before we can understand the nucleus of truth in 



Mr. Ruskin's own work, we must get above the unreflective 
realism in which the theoretical parts of his writings are steeped. 
Again and again, in passages of the noblest wisdom and insight, 
he transcends the limitations of his own thought and language, 
but always to sink back into the confusion inevitable to all 
adherents of the psychological philosophy when they come to deal 
w^ith mental and moral questions. 

The influence of Locke and Hume upon the form of Mr. 
Ruskin's theories is obvious and avowed. He believes that ' fact,' 
' nature,' and ' truth ' are only given in sense-perception, and 
that therefore sensation gives us the truest and fullest knowledge 
of reality ; his distrust of ideas is due to the belief that they dis- 
tort and obscure the revelations of this unerring mirror of reality. 
But these assumptions do justice neither to the real independence 
of the physical world, nor to the claims of the mind to discover 
and possess absolutely reliable knowledge. And when we are 
dealing with such a concrete reality as pictorial art we cannot 
afford to do less than the fullest justice to both nature and mind. 
We cannot, hke the practical man or the students of the physical 
sciences, rule out the unseen world of human feeling as irrelevant 
to our immediate purposes, any more than we can neglect the 
concrete course of phenomena, like the student of the a priori 
forms of knowledge. In art we have to do with nature and mind 
in active co-operation. We are therefore bound to treat them as 
two factors in a common process. We cannot have two aims in 
art, and we cannot separate {a) physical objects from [b) an 
artist's thoughts and feelings ; if we make the attempt we are 
inevitably driven, as we have seen Mr. Ruskin driven, to maintain 
that {a) is {b), and (6) {a), and then the point of our distinction 
seems lost. In art criticism the problem is not to separate mind 
from nature, but to unite them — to bring out the permanent and 
universal relation which binds them together. And the only way 
to do this is to treat them both as elements or members in the 
formed world of the self-conscious subject. 

It is not the special business of art criticism to show that the 

conception of nature as what is ' given ' in sense-perception, and 

as ' God's work ' as distinguished from the action of human 

intelligence, is contradictory and untenable. The work is already 



done. The theory of the perceptive judgment, upon which all 
modern philosophies, realist as well as idealist, are based, is too 
firmly established to render necessary any further discussion of 
Locke's and Hume's imperfect analysis of perception. All that 
art criticism has to do is to realise that its own point of view is 
essentially identical with the point of view of logic and meta- 
physic, and to adopt and use any of the established truths of these 
sciences which are relevant to its purposes. 

In insisting that the philosophical point of view is the only pos- 
sible platform from which the facts which art criticism deals with 
can be adequately correlated, I am aware that I am advancing a 
somewhat novel proposition. It is also one which I do not think 
it advisable to defend in detail on the present occasion. The pre- 
sent volume is the outcome of an attempt to apply this point of 
view. So far as all that has gone before is in harmony with my 
intentions, it is an exemplification of the practical usefulness of 
such a working hypothesis, but the subject seems to me to call 
for full and free discussion, and I hope on a suitable occasion to 
revert to it. At present I hope it will be sufficient if I say that 
art criticism, if it is to be regarded as a form of knowledge, can 
have only one consistent aim, and that is intellectual satisfaction. 
And the subject-matter of art criticism is essentially a form of 
communication, and therefore is concerned only with certain 
aspects of the formed world of human experience. And in deal- 
ing with any aspects of the ' world of discourse ' with a view to 
the satisfaction of our intellectual requirements of coherency 
and consistency of thought, the terms and ideas used in our 
non-systematised everyday thought and language are certainly 
inadequate, and those in use in all the special sciences, though 
valid enough when confined within the limits prescribed by their 
initial assumptions, are no less unsatisfactory for our purpose. 

For the artist to regard nature as anything but an existing 
reality independent of individual experience and given ready- 
made in immediate perception must, no doubt, be exceedingly 
difficult. Both the original bent of his mind and the whole 
course of his professional training and practice have tended to 
consolidate his spatial intuitions into something apparently primary 
and instinctive. But an artist, as an artist, is not called upon to 



undertake the business of art criticism. The difficulty, however, 
remains nearly as great for the art critic, for he also is necessarily 
one whose visual faculties have received early and special develop- 
ment. When even an art critic looks at the familiar objects with 
which he is surrounded and notices their sharply defined forms 
and colours, he finds it hard to believe that the very distinctness 
of these perceptions is the result of a long process of education 
which his own faculties have undergone. The clearness seems so 
unmistakably to belong to the objects. Yet however difficult 
the step, it must be taken. We are bound to admit that animals 
and infants cannot have the same ordered visual image of space 
definitely stretching away all round them which we are apt to 
regard as one of the primary and fixed constituents of the external 
world. But if the spatial system into which objects of perception 
fall so easily has to be constructed in some way by each human 
being for himself, it follows that pictorial art, which as a means of 
expression and communication is based entirely upon that system, 
cannot by any possibility present us with bare physical fact, with 
a nucleus of solid, ready-made reality — of ' God's work,' in Mr. 
Ruskin's sense of these terms. So that when we talk of art as 
representing nature, it is evident that we must be careful to dis- 
tinguish exactly what we mean by such an expression. If we 
take it to mean that art does or can or ought to give us a copy 
of the given actual world as it exists apart from what Mr. 
Ruskin calls the meddling action of man's intelligence, then it is 
obvious that we have fallen into a very serious error. Apart from 
the action of his intellect, an artist could not possibly make the 
external world an object of his thought ; he could not, therefore, 
represent it on paper or canvas ; and even if we suppose these 
difficulties overcome, and the copy of bare unadulterated reality 
fixed on the canvas, nobody could possibly recognise it or know 
that it was there. 

If this is so, I think it is clear that art cannot portray or 
represent or imitate or copy nature, at least in the sense in which 
nature is taken at the unreflective level of thought. What art 
portrays must be some part of the ideal construction present to 
the mind of the artist. Perhaps the simplest way of putting this 
is to say that the artist can operate only with ideas, and not with 


any directly given elements of reality ; with idea, in short, in the 
sense of 'meaning,' 'significance,' or 'logical content,' and not 
with idea as physical fact or immediate experience. But as ideas 
in this sense — which we must be careful to remember includes 
emotion — are not gifted with the property of visibility, it seems 
on the whole better not to say that a woi'k of art imitates or 
porti-ays them. Strictly speaking, a work of art is a symbol, and a 
symbol is not a copy or imitation of the meaning it stands for. 
The meaning of pictorial art is then always some connected circle 
of psychical states with their presentative and emotional contents. 
These contents may refer to the common physical world of 
ordinary experience, or they may refer to a dream-world that has 
no existence except as an element of human consciousness ; and 
this reference is determined in each case by the nature of the 
contents themselves. 

In reducing nature in this way to an element within the 
consciousness of the artist and spectator, I may seem to have 
destroyed at a blow all the pure unsullied beauty of the external 
world as it exists in apparent independence of human experience. 
I have done nothing of the kind. I have insisted that nature, as 
an existent independent of individual experience, is an unreal 
abstraction ; that the very fulness and reality and splendour of 
nature exist for each of us nowhere but in the world of our own 
consciousness, and that within that world of consciousness nature 
does exist as a system of objects acting and reacting on one 
another, and is therefore independent of the presence or absence of 
the consciousness which presents them. 

Such a conception of nature seems to me an inevitable corol- 
lary from the general conception of the purpose and mode of 
action of art forced upon us by our previous investigations. From 
this point of view I will define a work of pictorial art as an 
arrangement of spatial symbols embodying an individualised 
psychical content present to the mind of the artist, and intended 
to call up always the same ideas and emotions in the minds of 
others. I will make no attempt to conceal my opinion that such 
a theory is valid of all pictorial art, and I will add that I am 
also disposed to think that such a point of view is a peculiarly 

fruitful one from which the whole field of art criticism could be 
T.S.-10 145 


reconstituted. And as criticism, as at present understood and 
practised, is declared on all hands — even by its most accomplished 
exponents — to be bankrupt,-^ I might urge that the revolutionary 
character of any general theory was a strong argument in its 
favour. But the present occasion is not a suitable one for dwelling 
upon the general and far-reaching character of this theory. Here 
I am only justified in insisting upon its validity as a working 
hypothesis for the proper understanding of our immediate subject- 
matter. Only on such an hypothesis, it seems to me, can we give 
an intelligible explanation of the essential character of Turner's 
studies and sketches and drawings from nature, and of their 
connection with his completed works. 

Whether this assertion is justified at all, and if so how far, 
depends, of course, upon the whole of the foregoing study of 
Turner's works, but I will add a few cursory remarks, partly of a 
recapitulatory nature, but treating our subject-matter from the point 
of view of its logical content or meaning. In these remarks I wiU 
try to deal with some of the diflficulties that stand in the way of 
such a treatment. 

We will deal first with Turner's studies of separate objects, 
such as those of an arm-chair (No. 363, N. G.), of fishes (373, 
374, N. G.) and birds (375, 415, N. G.) among the exhibited 
drawings.^ Here the artist works directly from an external 
object, and seems to be aiming not at the expression or 
representation of his own ideas, but at the reproduction of 
the attributes or qualities given in sense perception and belong- 
ing to an independent reality. The object was there before 
the artist began to draw it, and the artist's drawing only 
reproduces the visible qualities (form and colour) of the object 
itself. But the object is much more than its visible qualities, and 
even its visible qualities are far from exhausted by the one aspect 
of them which is all that the artist can represent. He therefore 
takes one aspect of an object and uses that as a sign or symbol of 
all the other possible aspects and sense qualities which we may 
suppose the object to possess. So that even if we insist on 
regarding the image on the paper as a particular image, it is clear 

1 See, for example. Professor C. J. Holmes's Xotes on the Science of Picture-Making. 
Introduction. 2 j^^q of tJiese studies are reproduced in The Genius of Turner. 



that it must be used as a universal sign, if it is to be understood. 
The profile view of a face, for instance, means or implies not only 
the whole head, but also the whole concrete individuality of the 
person to whom the profile belongs. 

So far, then, as a particular visual image is used as a rallying 
point for calling up the whole range of ideas which constitute the 
thing as an object of thought, so far have we to do with a logical 
idea, with an element in our world of knowledge, with what is 
strictly an universal or an identity. A sharply defined sensuous 
image of a thing forms, no doubt, a more easily and generally 
recognisable vehicle of reference than a name, but its function as a 
means of communication is the same. And as in speaking and 
writing it is not a matter of indifference what words we use to 
designate the objects about which we are thinking, so in pictorial 
communication, the particular sensuous image employed has con- 
siderable importance in directing attention to certain constituents of 
the total idea called up. In this way pictorial signs certainly have a 
general tendency to focus attention upon the corporeity of objects, 
but it is, I believe, a grave error of principle not to acknowledge 
that all the properly associated elements of the subject referred to 
are more or less involved. Some elements are kept more in the 
background of consciousness than others, but they are very far 
from being non-existent. 

It is important, certainly, to think of pictorial signs as endlessly 
supple and fluid. Even the rigidity of the meanings of words has 
been absurdly overstated. Poetry is only possible because the 
powers of evocation possessed by words are much less limited 
and defined than certain theorists would have us believe. But 
pictorial signs are more dehcate agents than words. They vary 
in ways that words cannot. They are made de novo on every 
occasion of their use, and therefore they can adapt themselves 
more adroitly to each new context. And every shade of variation 
in the constitution of the sign has its influence in determining the 
constitution of the mental presentation which it calls up. 

But even when we make all due allowance for the artist's 
power of emphasis and discrimination with regard to the elements 
which make up the total thought-content of his object, we must 
confess that the range of expression centred rovmd any single 



material object is limited. A study of such an object points to 
the object it was made from — it assures us that this particular 
object was bodily present to the eyes of the artist when he made 
the study, but it does not tell us in what ideal context we are to 
take the object. A study as such is not a work of art, or perhaps 
it would be better to say that it is a mere fragment of a possible 
work of art. A study is simply a pictorial name, and a name has 
meaning only in a sentence or by suggesting a sentence.^ If we 
look at a study from the same point of view from which we regard 
a work of art, we should go on to ask ourselves, ' Well, what of it, 
what is the artist's purpose in painting or drawing this ? ' It 
would start us upon an objectless and endless intellectual exercise, 
in which we should miss the purpose which every work of art 

This indeterminateness and incompleteness of meaning forms, I 
believe, the essential characteristic of a study, as distinguished 
from a work of art. One result, then, of our insistence upon the 
content of pictorial art is the re-emergence of an old traditional 
usage or term which recent theorising has done its best to discard. 
Apart from the question of content, I believe there is nothing to 
distinguish a study or a sketch from a complete picture. 

Let us now turn from the elaborate studies of individual 
objects to the pure outline drawings of places and buildings which 
Turner made at the beginning of his career. The drawings of 
' Ripon ' and ' Lincoln Cathedral ' here reproduced may stand as 
typical of this class of work. Such drawings are defective in the 
same way as the studies. Their meaning is incomplete. We do 
not know exactly how to take them. They are very much on the 
footing of perceptive judgments, that is to say, they are not cut 
loose from the artist's personal focus of presentation. This is 
what he saw at a certain moment ; but why did he draw it ? As a 
mere record of fact, or as material which would or might be useful 
in a subsequent imaginative construction ? The drawings them- 
selves do not answer these questions, but their defects of meaning 
point beyond themselves. 

Such drawings are also defective in another way. Being 

^ See Dr. Bosanquet's Essentials of Logic, p. 91 sq. 



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entirely in outline they make abstraction of the tone, colour, and 
light and shade. If we are to take them as topographical illustra- 
tions they demand further visual determination, if, as having an 
imaginative purpose, the emotional setting of the facts calls for 

So far, then, we have been dealing with operations preliminary 
or subservient to the genuine processes of artistic expression. In 
studies and sketches made in the presence of the object or model 
the personal focus of presentation, and therefore time reference, 
remains clearly in evidence. It is not, I am inclined to think, till 
the drawing or painting cuts itself loose from the demonstrative 
of immediate perception that we find ourselves on the threshold 
of free artistic expression. 

Such a sketch as that of the ' Hedging and Ditching ' subject 
(Plate XXV.) may serve as a connecting link between the two cate- 
gories. Like the drawings of Lincoln and Ripon Cathedrals, it 
is probably only a record of a scene actually witnessed, and as a 
record of the objects constituting such a scene and their relations 
to one another it is considerably less complete than they are. 
But somehow I find it hard to take it simply as a record of fact, 
perhaps simply because of its very incompleteness. As a symbol 
of a determinate complex of feeling present to the mind of the 
artist, it demands to be placed in a different category from those 
drawings which only aim at the accumulation of the raw material 
of artistic invention ; and this in spite of its defects and insufii- 
ciencies which make it, it must be admitted, quite unintelligible as 
such a symbol to everybody but the artist himself. Yet here, it 
seems to me, we have crossed the threshold which divides a study 
from a work of art proper. The reference to reality is no longer 
direct. The artist is no longer giving evidence about matters of 
fact. He has cut himself free from the demonstrative of immediate 
perception and is groping his way towards a definitory judgment.^ 
We have here an operative identity cut loose from its context, 
though in a singularly inarticulate form. But if so, the sketch 
must be taken as an incipient work of art, which possesses the 
capacity of growth or development. 

' The transition is from the singular to the universal judgment. See Dr. Bosanquet's 
Logic, vol. i. chap. v. ; and Essentials of Logic, p. 64 sq. 



In the sepia drawing of this subject, reproduced in Plate xxvi., 
we come to a later stage of this development. Here the whole 
subject has become defined, not indeed to the point of realisation 
that would satisfy a modern artist, but sufficiently to evoke and 
control the ideas and emotions present to the mind of the artist. 
We can say if we like that such a drawing is or may be a more or 
less accurate realisation of an actual scene, and though such an 
assertion would require qualification, I do not think we could 
reject it altogether. But if we said that it was nothing more than 
such a realisation we should certainly be wrong. It is a great 
deal more. The connection between any fact or series of facts 
and the emotional standpoint from which we regard them is 
at times a matter of chance. But in Turner's design the connec- 
tion between subjective feeling and the objects upon which our 
attention is focussed is not left to the caprice of chance or to the 
accidents of individual initiative ; the connection is necessary, and 
objective and universal. Indeed if we examine the matter care- 
fully we find that the whole raison d'etre of the drawing turns 
upon its power of evoking and qualifying ideally a definite range 
of emotion. The objects selected and the manner of their pre- 
sentation are such that a normal mind, so far as it understands the 
artist's symbols, is bound to feel about the presented scene in 
exactly the way that the artist felt. 

Now, so long as the scene which the artist evokes exists only 
for the sake of suggesting and limiting a certain range of emotion, 
the relation of this scene to fact is entirely irrelevant. The artist 
is not bearing witness to what he has seen, he is defining a definite 
complex of thought and emotion ; and as an artist, his work is 
complete when he has worked out this definition. When he has 
done this his work is complete within itself, and all direct reference 
to a particular time and place in the world of fact is wiped out. 
What we have before us is a hypothetical connection of ideal and 
universal meanings. We are now in the region of the hypothetical 
judgment. The hypothetical form is adopted not because there is 
any uncertainty in the matter, but because the artist wishes to 
concentrate attention on the attributes themselves, and not on 
any particular embodiment of them. The subject is taken, not 
given, and taken not for its own sake but for the sake of that 


which is to follow from it, — in this case, the whole emotional 
complex which is to be called up. 

We might, if our space were not limited, attempt to work this 
out more in detail. We might exhibit others of Turner's studies 
and designs as steps or stages in the process which aims at the 
complete analysis or definition of its content. But the main con- 
ception will, I hope, have been made evident. If the work of art 
as operative is nothing but a connection of content, it can rely 
upon no other driving force than that of systematic rationality. 
The assertions made in a work of art are made on the strength of 
rational grounds, and not on the strength of testimony. If the 
artist uses fact, he does not use it as fact, and the most outrageous 
fiction may be truer than fact within the four walls of his special 
construction. In interpreting pictures, as in following fiction, we 
are engaged in an act of comprehensive abstraction ; the conjunc- 
tion of objects or events is all within a judgment that we are deal- 
ing with abstractions used for a certain purpose. Colonel New- 
come and Turner's trees and mountains are as much abstractions 
and as unreal as the abstractions of the physical sciences, as matter, 
force, atoms, etc., — as unreal, but also quite as real, and probably 
in the same way. They are provisional conceptions employed for 
certain purposes. And all the details and secondary judgments 
used in interpreting a picture must be recognised as transformed 
by the system to which they belong.^ 

But each work of art though rational is nevertheless a unique 
individual, and though all works of art as forms of communication 
must necessarily aspire to the ideal of complete definition, yet it 
does not follow that some of the stages short of absolute deter- 
mination may not very well possess considerable aesthetic interest 
of their own. Conversation among people who understand each 
other tends to become elliptical. A hint of one's meaning is 
generally sufficient for a friend ; indeed, when we are thoroughly 
assured of the good will of our auditor, a hint often conveys our 
meaning better than a more laboured form of expression. It is 
the same in pictorial art. To those who understand the language 
and are on terms of intimacy with the artist's usual modes of 

^ The best discussion of these points with which I am acquainted is contained in Dr. 
Bosanquet's Knowledge and Reality, pp. 140-155. 



expression and habitual range of thought and feeling, a few hurried 
scribbles or washes are as delightfully suggestive and full of 
significance as a completed painting ; and at the same time, from 
the very fact that we have gone more than half-way to meet the 
artist, we enjoy the additional pleasure of intimate intercourse. The 
sympathetic and imaginative and well-informed spectator is there- 
fore apt to resent the suggestion that such delightfully eloquent 
sketches as the ' Pass of Faido,' ' Lucerne,' ' Zurich,' and a hundred 
others equally eloquent and suggestive, are in any way short of 
perfection. And no doubt from the strictly aesthetic point of 
view they are right. ' The best of this kind are but shadows, and 
the worst are no worse if imagination amend them.' But I think 
it is clear that considerable experience of the completed works of 
an artist is necessary before even the privileged spectators 
can feel perfect confidence in their own interpretation of 
the artist's slighter work. When dealing, for example, with 
some of the sketches and studies for marine subjects, as ' Fisher- 
men launching a Boat in a rough Sea' (Plate xix.), or with the 
marine and pastoral subjects in the Liber, we can interpret them 
with perfect confidence because, in pictures like ' The Guard Ship 
at the Nore,' ' Windsor,' and ' Frosty Morning,' the artist has 
shown us exactly the kind of completion his sketches point to. 
But with the latest sketches (Faido, Lucerne, etc.), we are on a 
different footing. A few only of these sketches were carried 
farther, and I believe I am right in saying that according to the 
consensus of educated opinion the subjects lost rather than gained 
by elaboration. 1 believe this opinion to be correct, and I would 
suggest that the explanation is not entirely to be found in the 
waning powers of the artist. Some mental and emotional contents 
are incapable of definite embodiment. The vague yearning and 
enigmatical unrest which form the most prominent elements in 
these designs are probably of that kind. Contents of such a 
nature that they are only partially amenable to artistic treatment 
are therefore more adequately treated in the less explicit forms of 
art. Such cases as these impress on us the importance of not con- 
fusing that mechanical kind of realisation which is known in 
artistic circles as ' finishing ' or ' high finishing ' with the demands 
for ideal determination. The ideal towards which all works of art 



aspire is that of making the connection universally valid between 
the sign and the state of consciousness which is its meaning, i.e. to 
exclude all kinds of accidental and not strictly necessary emotional 
effects. But this demand is only a formal one. Where a certain 
ambiguity of interpretation forms a necessary factor in the mean- 
ing of the work, the demand for definition is obviously limited. 
The form, on a final analysis, must be determined by the content, 
and not vice versa. 

In conclusion, 1 will only say that I am well aware of the 
inadequacy of these remarks, but that I cannot regard this as the 
proper place to amplify or develop them. I have said enough, I 
hope, to draw attention to the point of view which the novel 
character of our subject-matter has forced upon us. In dealing 
with the completed work of art, as art criticism mainly does, it 
is comparatively easy to rest satisfied with a mere analysis of 
external shape, or a simple description of the machinery or 
anatomy of pictorial art ; to treat works of art, in short, as the 
dried specimens of the botanist's herbarium. But when we come 
to study the rudimentary forms of artistic expression, — an artist's 
sketches and studies — we begin to discover the shortcomings of 
the merely statical or morphological point of view. Works of 
art, we find, are something more than the fossil remains or dead 
bodies of artistic activity. They are factors in the living process 
by which the artist's thought and emotion are kindled afresh in 
the bosom of the spectator. Instead, therefore, of merely de- 
scribing the anatomy of the dead specimen, we have had to ad- 
dress ourselves to the much harder task of attempting to compre- 
hend the living activity of art. The old static or morphological 
point of view had to give place to a dynamic or physiological 
system of interpretation. The emphasis was placed on function 
rather than on structure. The new ideal of art criticism which 
has thus been forced upon me is a synthetic view of function and 
form, the interpretation of function in relation to structure. Art 
criticism would thus become a science which treats of the 
mode of action of works of art and of the function of their 
parts. It would be concerned entirely with the positive facts 
of art as an active method of communication, and it would 



seek only for verifiable generalisations — for a classified and unified 
account of the phenomena of artistic activity. 

The present volume, with all its shortcomings and defects, is, 
I hope, at least a feeble and hesitating step in this direction. 



The names of Turner's oil-paintings and water-colours are printed in italics. Oil-paintings 
in the National Gallery have the gallery numbers immediately after the names, thus 
(N.G. 523) ; water-colours and drawings in the National Gallery have their reference 
numbers in the official Inventory of the Turner Bequest, thus (T.B. cclxxx. 184). Where 
I have been able to do so I have added references to the books where reproductions of the 
paintings, etc., have been published. These are placed at the end of the entries, in square 
brackets, thus [Turner Gallery, PI. 4]. 

List of Volumes referred to 

'The Turner Gallery.' With Memoir, etc., by R. N. Woruum. 
London : James S. Virtue, . . Referred to as 

'Turner and Ruskin.' Edited by Fredk. Wedmore. 

London : George Allen, 1900, . . . „ 

'Turner.' By Sir Walter Armsti-ong. London: T. 

Agnew and Sons, 1902, . . . . ,, 

'The Genius of J. M. W. Turner, R.A. Edited by 

Charles Holme. Offices of ' The Studio,' 1903, . ,, 

'Hidden Treasures at the National Gallery.' 'Pall 

Mali' Press. Holborn, 1905, . . . „ 

'The Life of J. M. W. Turner, R.A.' By P. G. 

Hamerton. London : Seeley and Co., Ltd., 1895, „ 

'J. M. W. Turner, R.A.' By W. L. WyUie, A.R.A. 

London: G. Bell & Sons, 1905, . . . „ 

' The Water-Colours of J. M. W. Turner.' Offices 

of ' The Studio,' 1909, . . . . „ 

'J. M. W. Turner, R.A.' By Robert Chignell. 

London : Walter Scott Publishing Co., 1902, . ,, 

'Ruskin on Pictures.' Edited by E. T. Cook, 

London : George Allen, 1902, . . . „ 

' James Orrock, R. I. Painter, etc. ' By Byron ^Vebber. 

London, 1903, .....,, 

Turner Gallery 

Turner and Ruskin 



Hidden Treasures 



Water-Colours of Turner 


Ruskin on Pictures 

Byron Webber 



Abbotsfobd, 106. 
Aberdulas, Mill at, 27. 
Abingdon, 11. 

Abingdon, Berkshire, with a View of the 

Thames : Morning (N.G. 485), 5, 55, 96. 

[Turner Gallery, PI. 12; Ruskin on 

Pictures, p. 24; Chignell, p. 24.] 

' Aesthetic, History of (B. Bosanquet's), 31. 

Agnew, Messrs., 20. 

Agrippina landing with the Ashes of Germani- 
cus. Ancient Rome (N.G. 523), 119, 121. 
[Genius, 0-17.] 
Aitken, Dr., 19. 
Akenside, M., 69, 98. 
Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, 35. 
Alps at Daybreak, The (T.B. colxxx. 184), 129. 
Ambleteuse, 42, 135. 
Anchorage, Ships bearing up for (Petworth 

House Collection), 44. 
Anderdon Catalogues (Print Room, B.M.), 

Anselm's Chapel, with part of Thomas a 
Becket's Crown, St. (Whitworth Insti- 
tute), 18, 19. 
Antinoiis, The Belvedere, 14. 
Antique Class, R. A. Schools, 14. 
Apollo and Python (N.G. 121), 6. [Turner 

and Ruskin, vol. i. p. 42.] 
Apollo, The Belvedere, 14. 
Arm Chair, Study of an (T.B. xcv.(a) F.), 

Arnald, G., 76. 
Art Criticism and Aesthetic, separation of, 3, 

Arveron, Source of the (Farnley Hall Collec- 
tion), 82. [Study for, Genius, mw-10.] 
Avon, R., 15. 

Baiae, Bay of, with Apollo and the Sibyl (N.G. 

505), 88, 93. [Genius, 0-11 ; Wyllie, 

p. 68; Chignell, p. 64.] 
Bamborough Castle, 34. 
Barnard Castle, 34. 
Basire, J., 9. 
Basle (R. 5), 78, 79. 
Bass Rock, the, 48. 
Bath Abbey from the North-Ea^t (T.B. vii. y.), 

14, 15. 
Bell, Mr. C. F., 90. 
Bellinzona, 140. 
Bembridge Mill (T.B. xxiv. 49), 25. 


Bernard, Dr. J. H., 32. 

Berry Pomeroy Castle (R. 58), 81. 

Berwick, 48. 

Birds, Studies of (T.B. colxiii. 340 and 341), 

146. [Genius, w-7.] 
' Birmingham,' 20. 
Blair's Hut, Mer de Glace (Farnley Hall 

Collection), 39. [Turner and Ruskin, 

vol. ii. p. 198.] 
Blaise Castle (T.B. vi. 20 a), 15. 
'Bolton Abbey,' 109, 110, 111. 
Borrowdale, 34. 
Bosanquet, Dr. B., 'Essentials of Logic,' 

148, 149. 

' History of Aesthetic,' 31. 

' Knowledge and Reality,' 151. 

' Logic,' 149. 

Boscastle, 99, 100, 102. 

Boulogne, 42. 

Boydell, John, 36. 

Brading, Isle of Wight, 25. 

Bridge and Cows (R. 2), 57, 73. 

Bridgenorth, 20. 

Bridgewater Sea Piece, The, 43, 44, 45, 46. 

[Turner Gallery, PI. 2.] 
Bristol, 14, 15. 
' British Itinerary, The,' 99. 
Brocklebauk, Mr. Ralph, 45. 
■ — - Mr. Thomas, 106. 
Burke, Edmund, 31. 
Bury Art Gallery, 118. 
Buttermere, 34. 

Buttermere Lake (T.B. xxxv. 84), 35. 
Buttermere Lake, with part of Cromack-water, 

Cumberland; a Shower (N.G. 460), 36. 
Byronism, 121, 123. 
Byron, Lord, 128. 
Byron's ' Childe Harold,' 88. 

Caernarvon Castle, North Wales (T.B. lxx. m), 

Calais, 43. 

Calais, Pas de. See Xowfor the Painter. 

Calais Pier, with French Poissards preparing 
for Sea : an English Packet arriving 
(N.G. 472), 23, 47, 119. [Hamerton, 
p. 92; Turner Gallery, PI. 3.] 

Calais Sands, Low Water : Poissards collecting 
Bait (Bury Art Gallery), 118, 126. 
[lUus. Cat. Bury Art Gallery, p. 72.] 

Callcott, Sir A. W., 4. 


Cambridge, 20. 

Campbell, T., 128. 

Canning, 58. 

Canterbury Cathedral, St. Ansehn's Chapel, 

with part of Thomas a. Becket's Crown 

(^VTiitworth Inst.), 18, 19. 
Cardiff Art Gallery, 29. 
Carew Castle, 26. 
Carisbrook Castle, 25. 
Carlisle, 34. 
Carthaginian Empire, Decline of the (N.G. 

499), 88. [Turner GaUery, PI. 21.] 
'Castle of Otranto' (Walpole's), 31. 
Chamounix, Mer de Glace (Farnley Hall Col- 
lection), 39. [Genius, mw-24 ; Turner 

and Ruskin, vol. ii. 196.] 
Chateaubriand, 88. 
Chepstow, 24. 
Chester, 20. 
Chinese Art, 22. 

Christchurch Gate, Canterbury, 17. 
Clifton Nuneham, 11. 
Clydach, R., 27. 
Clovelly, 99. 
Cobham, 51. 
Colchester, 111, 119. 
Coltman, N., 99. 
Combe Martin, 99. 
Coniston, 34. 
Content, Form and, 3. 
Conway Castle, 37. 
Cook's Folly, Bristol, 15. 
Cook, Sir Frederick, 55. 
Copper Plate Magazine, 20. 
Cottage, Interior of a (T.B. xxix. x.), 23, 

24, 28. [Genius, mw-5.] 
Cox, David, 4. 
Crossing the Brook (N.G. 497), 87. [Turner 

Gallery, Pi. 18; Armstrong, PI. 58; 

Genius, 0-10 ; Wyllie, p. 60.] 
Crowle, Mr., 6. 
Cumberland, 34. 
Cyfarthfa Sketch Book (T.B. xli.), 44. 

Dacre Castle, Cumberland (T.B. i. d.), 9. 

Daniell, Thomas, 76. 

Danish Ships seised at Copenhagen entering 

Portsmouth Harbour. See Spitheadj 

Boat's Crew, etc. 
Dartmouth, 99. 
Dartmouth Castle, 99. 

Datur hora Quieti, 129. 

Dawe, H., 81, 82. 

Dayes, E. 18, 19, 124. 

Deal, 135. 

Decline of the Carthaginian Empire (N.G. 

499), 88. [Turner Gallery, PI. 21.] 
Delacroix, 117. 

De Loutherbourg, 18, 19, 31, 32, 43. 
Deluge, The (N.G. 493), 45. 
Derby, 20. 
Derwentwater, 34. 

Derwentivater, The Head of (T.B. xxxv.82),3o. 
Devil's Bridge, Cardiganshire, 17. 
Devil's Bridge, The Little (R. 19), 80. 
'Devonshire Rivers, The,' 109. 
Dewick, Rev. E. S., 29. 
De Wint, P., 4. 
Dido and Aeneas (N.G. 494), 5, 87. 

[Turner Gallery, PI. 16.] 

building Carthage (N.G. 498), 87. 

[Genius, 0-9; Wyllie, p. 62; Turner 
Gallery, PI. 19.] 

directing the Equipment of the Fleet 

(N.G. 506), 88. [Hamerton, p. 216]. 

Diskobolos, The, 14. 

Dolbadern Castle (Diploma Gallery, R.A.), 

45. [Genius 0-1.] 
Dort (Farnley Hall Collection), 96. [Mag. 

of Art, July, 1887, p. 300.] 
Dover, 43. 
Dunbar Castle, 48. 
Dunbar Sketch Book (T.B. liv.), 48. 
Dunstanborough Castle, 34. 
Durdham Downs, Bristol, 15. 
Durham, 34. 
Durham Castle, 34. 
Durham Cathedral, 34. 
Dutch Boats in a Gale (The Bridgewater 

Sea-piece), 43. [Turner Gallery, PL 2.] 
Dying Gaul, the, 14. 

Edinburgh, 48. 

Edinburgh from the Gallon Hill (T.B. lx. 

H.), 107, 108. 
Egremont, Lord, 126. 
'Elegy,' Gray's, 31. 
Ely Minster, Transept and Choir of, 23, 
' Ely Minster, View of (Girtin's), 19. 
' England and ^Vales ' Series, 4, 26, 96, 97, 

109, 111, 112, 119, 129. 
'Environs of Manchester,' Dr. Aitken's, 19, 



Evening of the Deluge, The (N.G, 531), 119. 
Evening Star The (N.G. 1991), 119. [Cassell's 

Illustrated Catalogue^ N.G. of B. Art, 

p. 33.] 
Ewenny Priory, Transept of, 28, 29, SO, 31. 
Exile and the Rock Limpet, The (N.G. 529), 

119. [Cassell's Cat., p. 136.] 

Fabris, 7. 

Faido, Pass of (T.B. ccclxiv. 209), 140, 

152. [See ' Mod. Painters,' Isted. vol. iv. 

pi. 20 ; Turner and Ruskin, vol. ii. 

p. 168.] 
Farington, Joseph, 36. 
Farm Yard with the Cock (R. 17), 57. 
Farnley Hall Collection, The, 39, 52. 
Fast Castle, 49. 
Fawkes, Mr. F. H., 52. 
Fawkes, Walter, 91, 93, 103. 
Fishermen at Sea, 23, 42. 

becalmed previous to a Storm — 

Twilight, 42. 

coming Ashore at Sunset, 42. 

launching a Boat, etc. (lxviii. 3), 152. 

upon a Lee-shore (Lord Iveagh),23, 43, 

48. [Armstrong, p. 50.] 

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 18, 102. 

Flint, 20. 

Flint Castle. See French Coast, Scene on the. 

Flushing, 51. 

Folkestone, 135. 

Folly Bridge and Bacon's Tower (T.B. i. a.), 

9. [Genius, mw-1]. 
Form and Content, 3. 
Forum Romanuni (N.G. 504), 93. 
Fouche's ' Memoirs,' 59. 
Fowler, Captain, 15. 
Franco-British Exhibition, The, 48. 
Freedom and Necessity, Reconciliation of, 

French Coast, Scene on the (R. 4), 57, 75-78. 
Frosty Morning, A (N.G. 492), 4, 5, 55, 61, 

63, 64, 66, 68, 86, 87, 96, 117, 119, 152. 

[Hamerton, p. 148 ; Wyllie, p. 56 ; 

Armstrong, p. 112]. 

Gainsborough, T., 57. 

Garrick's Temple and Hampton Court (R. 63). 

See Isleworth, Scene at. 
' Genius of mechanical excellence,' 10. 
Gessner, 57. 


Gilpin's ' Northern Tour,' 9. 

Girtin, Thomas, 19. 

Glaramara, Hills of {T.B. xxxv. 83), 35 

Goodrich Castle, 26. 

Gould, Mr. G. J., 52. 

Goyen, Van, 28. 

Gravesend, 50, 51. 

Gray's ' Elegy," 31. 

Greenwich, 61. 

Greenwich Park, London from (N.G. 483) 

63, 80. [Genius, 0-14.] 
Grose's 'Antiquities,' 9. 
Guisborough Shore Sketch Book (T.B. lii.) 


Hamerton's 'Turner,' 130. 

Hannibal Crossing the Alps (N.G. 490), 5. 

[Turner Gallery, PI. xiv.]. 
Harding, J. D., 12. 
Hardwick, P. C, 10, 11, 14. 
Hastings, 51. 
Hayter, G., 117. 
Hearne, Thomas, 18, 19. 
Hedging and Ditching (R. 47), 61, 94, 119, 

Hereford, 15. 
Heme Bay, 51, 
Heysham, 103-106, 108. 
High Force of Tees, 27. 
Hind Head Hill (R. 25), 58, 61. 
Hoare, Sir R. C, 25. 
Holmes, Mr. C. J., 146. 
Holt, Collection of the late Mr. R. F., 23. 
Hornby Castle, 102, 103, 106, 108. 
Hotwells, Bristol, The, 15. 
Hugo, Victor, 129. 
Hulks on the Tamar (Petworth House), 119. 

[Armstrong, p. 74.] 
Hume, David, 85, 142, 143. 

Indolence, The Fountain of, 121. 

Interior of a Cottage (T.B. xxix. x.), 23', 24, 

28. [Genius, mw-5.] 
Isabey, 117. 

Isle of Wight, 24, 25, 26. 
Isleworth Old Church, 11, 12. 
Isleworth, Scene at (R. 63), 81. 
Italy, 6. 
Iveagh, Lord, 23, 43, 48. 

Japanese Art, 22. 


Jason (N.G. 471), 38. 

Jeffrey, F., 67. 

Johnson, Dr., S3, 35. 

'Judgement, Kritik of (Kant), 31, 32. 

Juvenile Tricks (R. 22), 57. 

Kant's ' Kritik op Judgement,' 31, 32. 
Kershaw, Mr., 25. 
Keswick, 34. 

' Lake, View of (Dayes), 19. 

Kidwelly Castle, 26. 

Kilgarran Gastle, 41. [Armstrong, p. 40.] 

King's College, Cambridge, 20. 

Kingston Bank (N.G. 491), 55. 

Kirkstall Abbey, 34. 

Kirkstall Crypt (Soane Museum), 91. 

Korin, 51. 

Lambert, Mr., 25. 

' Landscape with Bathers ' (R Wilson), 36. 

Landseer, Mr. C, 25. 

Land's End, 102. 

Langhorne, Dr., 69. 

Laugharne Castle, 26. 

Laurie, Mr., 25. 

Lawrence, Sir T., 88, 90, 117. 

Lee-Shore, Fishermen on a (Lord Iveagh), 

23, 43, 48. [Armstrong, p. 60.] 
Liebreich, Dr., 120. 
Lessing, 98. 
'Liber Studiorum,' 4, 48, 66, 67, 68, 61, 64, 

72-83, 99, 119. 
Lichfield, 20. 

Life Class, R.A. Schools, 14. 
Lincoln, 20. 
Lincoln, Cathedral Church at (Print Room, 

B.M.), 20, 21, 22, 29, 31, 148, 149. 

[Genius, mw-4]. 
Lindisfarne, 34. 
Lippincott, Sir H., 15. 
Llandaff Cathedral (T.B. xxviii. a), 23, 29, 

Llanstephen Castle, 26. 
Locke, 142, 143. 
London from Greenwich Park (N.G. 483), 63, 

80. [Genius, 0-14.] 
Loutherbourg, De, 18, 19, 31, 32, 43. 
Lucerne (T.B. ccclxiv. 324), 152. 
Lysons' ' Environs of London,' 10. 

Macon (Lord Yarborough), 87. 

Macpherson, James, 31. 

Maiden Lane, 6. 

Maiden, Viscount, 25. 

Mallet, David, 69. 

Malmesbury Abbey, 15. 

Malvei-n Abbey, Porch of Great (Man. Whit- 
worth Inst.) 17, 18. 

Manchester, Whitworth Institute, 18, 20. 

Margate, 51, 135. 

Marshall, J. M. W., 11, 14. 

Martello Towers, Beochill (R. 34), 80. 

Martineau, H., 59. 

Matthews, Dr., 25. 

Matlock, 20. 

' Mechanical Excellence, Genius of,' 10, 125. 

Meleager, the Vatican, 14. 

Melincourt, Fall o/(T.B. xxxvi. 8), 27. 

Melrose, 129. 

Melrose Abbey, 34. 

Mer de Glace, Ohamounice (Farnley Hall), 39. 
[Turner and Ruskin, vol. ii. 196 ; 
Genius, mw-24.] 

Meuse, Entrance of the (N.G. 601), 96. 
[Armstrong, p. 84; Hamerton, p. 170.] 

Millbank, Study at (N.G. 459), 28. 

Miller, Mrs. Pitt, 45. 

Millet, J. F., 67. 

Milton, 31, 53, 69, 98. 

Mitchell, Mr., 25. 

' Modern Painters ' (Ruskin), 2. 

Monmouthshire, 15. 

Monro, Dr. 19. 

Moonlight Study at Millbank (N.G. 459), 28. 

Moore, T., 88, 89. 

Morland George, 43, 57. 

' Morning ' (Wilson), 36. 

Mortlake, Early (Summer's) Morning, 88. 
[Armstrong, p. 118.] 

Terrace : Summer's Evening, 88. [Arm- 
strong, p. 120.] 

Mossdale Fall, 102. 

' Musical ' Education, Defects of, 85. 

Naples, Part of, with the Ruin'd Tower of 

St. Vincent, 7. 
Napoleon, 42, 58, 69. 
Narcissus and Echo (Petworth House), 87. 
Narraways, The, 14. 
Naturalism, Wordswoi'thian, 4. 
Nature and Art, 3, 4, 8, 11, 15. 



Needles, The, 25. 

Neer, Van der, 28. 

Nelson, The Death of (N.G. 480), 53, 54. 

[Genius, 0-5; Turner Gallery, PI. 9.] 
Newcome, Col. 151. 
Newport, Isle of Wight, 25. 
' Night Thoughts' (Young), 31. 
Nile, The Battle of the, 42, 43. 
Nore, Guardship at the. See Sheemess. 
Norham Castle, S4. 
Norham Castle on the Tweed, Summers Mom, 

36, 41. [Armstrong, p. 34.] 
Northampton, 20. 
Northumberland, 84. 
Norwich School, the, 4. 
Nottingham, 20. 
Now for the Painter (J. M. Naylor), 96, 116. 

[Turner Gallery, PI. 27.] 
Nuneham Courtenay, 11. 

Orrock, Mr. J., 55. 
' Ossian," 31, 69. 
Oxford, 11, 15. 

Almanack,' 9. 

Loan Collection, 27. 

Sketch Book, The (T.B. ii.), 14. 

University Galleries, 46. 

Oxford, View of High Street (Wantage Coll.), 

5. [Illus. Cat. of Wantage Coll.] 
Oxford, View of the City of (T.B. in. b), 13. 

' Pastoral ' and ' Elegant Pastoral,' 56. 

Paterson's ' Road Book,' 84. 

Patterdale, 34. 

Pembroke Bay, 24. 

Pembroke Castle : Clearing up of a Thunder- 
storm (R. Brocklebank), 45. [Turner 
and Ruskin, vol. ii. p. 158 ; Armstrong, 
p. 50.] 

Pembroke Castle : Thunderstorm approaching 
(Mrs. W. Pitt Miller), 45. [Genius, w-1.] 

Pembury Milt (R. 12), 57. 

Percy's ' Reliques,' 31. 

Peterborough, 20. 

Cathedral : West Entrance, 20. 

Petworth, Interior at (N.G. 1988), 119. 

Dewy Morning (Petworth House Coll.), 


House Collection, 44, 126. 

Park (Petworth House Coll.), 126. 


Petworth Park (N.G. 559), 126. [Wyllie, 

p. 48.] 
Pilot hailing a Whitstable Hoy (Farnley Coll.), 

62. [Turner and Ruskin, vol. i. p. 132; 

Genius, 0-7.] 
Plato, 85. 

Pleasant and Beautiful, The, 90. 
Plymouth Dock, from Mount Edgecumbe, 102. 
' Pocket Magazine,' 20. 
' Poetry, History of English ' (Warton), 31. 
Poetry, Turner's, 69, 70. 
Poole, 102. 

Pope's Towei', Stanton Harcourt, 11. 
Portrayal and Portrayed, Problem of, 3. 
' Ports of England ' Series, 4, 96, 97. 
Portugal, Prince Regent of, 58. 
'Prelude, The' (Wordsworth), 65. 
Print Room, British Museum, 6, 17, 20. 
'Provincial Antiquities,' Scott's, 4, 96, 97, 

Purfleet, 54. 

Purley, nr. Pangbourne, 70. 
Pyke-Thompson Bequest, 29. 

Queen Mab's Cave (N.G. 548), 119. 

Radley Hall, near Abingdon, 11, 12, 13. 

Raglan Castle. See Berry Pomeroy Castle. 

Rain, Storm, and Speed, (N.G. 538), 119. 

[Turner and Ruskin, vol. ii. p. 270 ; 
Genius, 0-23 ; Wyllie, p. 132.] 

Raleigh's (Professor), ' Wordsworth,' 67. 

Rawlinson's ' Liber Studiorum,' 73, 78. 

Reichenbach, Falls of the (Farnley Hall 
Collection), 39. [Genius, m.w. — 19.] 

' Reliques,' Percy's, 31. 

Rembrandt, 67, 125. 

' Review of Publications of Art,' 60. 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 10, 125. 

Richmond Castle, Yorkshire, 34. 

Richmond Hill on the Prince Regent's Birth- 
day (N.G. 502), 88. 

'Richmondshire, The History of,' 4, 97, 102, 

Richmond, Yorks, 102. 

' Rimini, Bridge of Augustus at ' (Wilson), 

Ripon Cathedral (T.B. xxxv. 6), 34, 148, 


' Rivers of England ' Series, -i, 96, 97, 09, 

109, 127. 
' Rivers of France ' Series, 127, 129. 
' Rochester Castle ' (Sandby), 19. 
Rochester on the Medway (T. B. ccvm. w.), 

109, 127. 
Rogers, Samuel, 128. 
Romantic Art, Inauguration of, SI. 

Rome, Jrom Monte Mario (T.B. clxxxix. 

33), 92. 
Rome from the Vatican (T.B. clxxxix. 41), 

Rocker, M. A., 18, 19. 
Roslin Castle, 48. 
Rowlandson, T., 43. 
Royal Academy Schools, 14. 
Royal Academy, Winter Exhibition, 11. 
Ruskin Bequest, Cambridge, 102. 
Ruskin, Mr. John, 8, 27, 49, 90, 92, 93, 94, 

110, 130. 

' Ruskin on Pictures,' 50. 

Ruskin's ' Elements of Drawing,' 95, 140. 

' Modern Painters,' 109, 138 sq. 

St. Abb's Head, 49. 

St. Anselm's Chapel, etc. — Canterbury 
Cathedral' (Man. Whit. Inst.), 18, 

St. Catherine's Hill, near Ouildford (R. 33), 

St. Gothard, Pass of (Farnley Hall Collec- 
tion), 39. 

St. Vincent's Tower, Naples (T.B. i. e.), 6, 

Salisbury, 25. 

Sandbank with Gipsies (N.G. 467), 55. 

Sandby, Paul, 7, 13, 18. 

Sandwich, 135. 

Santayana, Mr. George, 123, 124. 

Schaffhausen, Fall of the Rhine at (Tabley 
House), 87. 

Scott, Sir Walter, 49, 88, 106, 128. 

Scott's ' Provincial Antiquities,' 4. 

Shee, Sir Martin A., 117. 

Sheerness (Wantage Collection), 62, 53, 54, 
96, 117, 152. [Armstrong, p. 52 ; and 
lUus. Cat., Wantage Collection.] 

Shelley, P. B., 123, 129. 

Ships bearing up for Anchorage (Petworth 
House Collection), 44. 

Shipwreck, Studies of a (T.B. lxxxviii. 1-8), 
49. [Wyllie, pp. 19-22.] 
T. S.— 11 

vol. ii. p. 

Shipwreck, The (N.G. 476), 23, 49, 50. 

[Genius, 0-3; Monkhouse, p. 50 ; Wyllie, 

p. 36.] 
Shrewsbury, 20. 
' Simple Nature, 4, 5. 
Snowstorm, The (N.G. 530), 119. 

p. 126 ; Turner and Ruskin, 


Soane Museum, The, 93. 
Southampton, 25. 
Southend, 51. 

' Southern Coast, The,' 4, 96-102, 103. 
Southey, R., 88. 

Spinnet Player, The (T.B. ccxliv. 37), 128. 
Spithead: Boat's Crew recovering an Anchor 

(N.G. 481), 53, 64,60,119. [Armstrong, 

p. 66 ; Turner and Ruskin, vol. i. p. 

Spithead Sketch Book (T.B. c), 59, 60. 
Stamford, Line, 112, 113, 114, 129. 
Stanton Harcourt, 11. 

' Stanton Harcourt, The Old Kitchen at,' 9. 
Stoke, near Bristol (Mrs. A. Thomas), 15. 
Stonehenge at Daybreak (R. 81), 99. 
Straw Yard, The (R. 7), 67. 
Strong, The late Mr. Arthur, 83. 
Subject and Treatment, 3. 
' Sublime and Beautiful, Essay on the 

(Burke), 31. 
Sunningwell, 14. 

Church, 11, 12. 

Symbolists, The French, 126. 
Swinburne, A. C, 129. 

Tantallon Castle, 48. 

Taylor, The late Mr. J. E., 82. 

Tees, High Force oj, 27. 

Teignmouth, 119. 

Temeraire, The Fighting (N.G. 524), 5, 54. 
[Armstrong, p. 116; Genius, 0-19; 
Hamerton, p. 282; Wyllie, p. 118. 

Teniers, 57. 

Thames and Medway, The Meeting oj the 
(N.G. 813), 46. [Wyllie, p. 142. 

(Mr. Wideuer's), 52. [Arm- 
strong, p. 54.] 

Thomas, Mrs., 15. 

Thomson, 57, 98. 

Thomson's Lyre (Basildon House), 5. 

Thornbury, Walter, 6. 

Tilsit, Treaty of, 58. 



Tintem Abbey (V. and A. Museum), 18 

[Genius, mw-3]. 
Topographical Art, limitations of, 22. 
Trafalgar, Battle of, (Greenwich Hospital), 

96 [Turner and Ruskin, vol. i. p. 4; 

'Hidden Treasures,' p. 91.] 
Treatment and Subject, 3. 
Trossachs, The, 41. 
Trout Stream, The, 56, 86. [Armstrong, 

p. 58.] 
Truth, 3. 

Turner, Charles, 76. 
Twickenham — Pope's Villa. See Isleworth, 

Scene at. 
Tynemouth, 113-115. 

Ullswater, 34. 

Ulysses deriding Polyphemus (N.G. 608), 
88, 118, 199. [Armstrong, p. 114 ; Tur- 
ner and Ruskin, vol. i. p. 64 ; Genius, 
0-12 ; Hamerton, p. 224 ; Wyllie, p. 80.] 

Union of the Thames and Isis (N.G. 487), 

Usk, R., 44. 

Van der Neer, 28. 

Van Goyen, 28. 

Vatican Meleager, The, 14. 

Vaughan Bequest, 102. 

Venice, Riva degli Schiavone, from near the 

Public Gardens (T.B. cccxvi. 21), 

Venice, Shipping on the Riva degli Schiavone 

(T.B. cccxvi. 20), 132. 
Venice, The Approach to (T.B. cccxvi. 16), 

Ventnor, 25. 
Venus de' Medici, 14. 
Via Mala, The (T.B. ccclxiv. 362), 135. 
Victoria and Albert Museum, 18, 19, 102. 
Village and Castle on the Rhine (T.B. 

cccLxix. 22), 136. 

Waiting for Dinner (T.B. cccxliv. 31), 

127, 128. 
Wallis Wall, Bristol, 15. 
Walpole, Horace, 31. 
Walton Bridges, 61. 


Walton Bridges (Wantage Collection), 66. 
[Armstrong, p. 58.] 

(Mr. J. Orrock), 65. [Byron 

Webber, vol. i. 94]. 
Wanstead, Nev? Church at, 10. 
Wantage, The Lady, 52, 56, 63. 

Warkworth Castle, 34. 

Warton, Joseph, 4, 31. 

Watchet, 99, 100, 101, 102. 

Waterloo, Field of (N.G. 500), 88. 

Water Mill, The (R. 37), 61. 

Wells, 26. 

Wells, Mrs., 75. 

W. F., 73. 

Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury (Man. Whit. 
Inst.), 20. 

Welsh Coast, A View of the, from Cook's 
Folly; (T.B. VI. 9), 16. 

Westall, William, 76. 

Whalers (N.G. 546, 547), 119. 

Whalley Bridge and Abbey (Wantage Col- 
lection), 63. [Illus. Cat. Wantage Col- 

' Whatman's Turkey Mills,' View of (Sand- 
by), 19. 

What You Will, 88. 

Wheatley, R, 18, 19, 57. 

Wheeler, Mrs., 75. 

Whitstable Hoy, Pilot hailing a (Farnley 
Hall Collection), 52. [Turner and 
Ruskin, vol. i. p. 132 ; Genius, 0-7.] 

Widener, Mr. P. A. B., 62. 

Wight, Isle of, 24, 25, 26. 

Wilson, R., 4, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 39, 84. 

Winchester, 26. 

Windermere, 34. 

Windmill and Lock (R. 27), 67, 68, 61, 

(Sir Frederick Cook), 66 [Genius 


Windsor, 16. 

Windsor (N.G. 486), 4, 65, 63, 64, 67, 68, 
86, 96, 117, 152. 

Wint, De, 4. 

Worcester, 15. 

Wordsworth, 4, 65, 86, 125. 

Dorothy, 64. 

'Wordsworth' (Prof. Raleigh), 67. 

Wordsworthian Naturalism, 4. 

Wordsworth's ' Excursion,' 67. 


Wordsworth's ' Lines, composed a few miles 
above Tintern Abbey,' 66. 

'Lyrical Ballads,' 68. 

'Prelude,' 65. 

Wrexham, 20. 

Yorkshire, 34. 

Yorkshire, Coast of, near Whitby (R. 24), 48. 

'Yorkshire Series, The.' See 'Richmond- 
shire, History of.' 

Young, Edward, 4, 31. 

Zurich (T.B. ccclxiv. 289), 162. [Water- 
Colours of Turner, PI. xxvii.] 


Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press